ARCHIVED - Uncovering Lost Potential at Jean Marie River First Nation

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The Jean Marie River First Nation is committed to achieving self-sufficiency, and with help from the Government of Canada's Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) and the First Nations Forestry Program (FNFP), they are well on their way.

Eric Bertrand, Loader Operator at the Jean Marie River First Nation Sawmill. (Photo by: Jean Marie River First Nation)

Over 15 years ago, a fire devastated the sawmill at Jean Marie River First Nation and it remained unused until the Community Sawmill Opportunities Study brought new life to the old operation. Between 2002 and 2003, the Study team travelled to several First Nations sawmills across the Northwest Territories to assist communities in reviving forgotten economic potential in their sawmill operations. The Study was made possible from a contribution of $26,500 through SINED and $24,000 from INAC's FNFP that helped several northern communities increase their economic potential. 

Todd Minoza, Sawyer. (Photo by: Jean Marie River First Nation)

As a result of the Community Sawmill Opportunities Study, FPInnovations-Forintek, Canada's national wood products research institute, was brought in to the community of Jean Marie River First Nation to offer training to residents on various aspects of the sawmilling process. Community members received training not only on the safe operation of sawmilling equipment but also on the tracking and recording of costs as an integral part of effective business management.

The Jean Marie River First Nation Sawmill in action. (Photo by: Jean Marie River First Nation)

"The community is now better positioned to operate a more efficient, productive sawmill" says Natural Resources Canada's Forest Liaison Manager, Lorne West.

This rejuvenated sawmill business has helped the community think locally in their pursuit of self-sufficiency and economic sustainability. "In the future, more can be provided from local products as opposed to imports from down south." explains West. The return to operation of the Jean Marie River First Nation Sawmill has brought the community a source of quality lumber. "People have lots of firewood, lots of rough lumber. They are building sheds and cabins on their land." says Arnold Gargan, Jean Marie River's Economic Development Officer. 

Thanks to the support offered by CanNor and INAC, this project has allowed the community to look forward to future possibilities and opportunities close to home.



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