Progressive Partnership Model Revitalizes Hornepayne Forest Sector Businesses

Chief Johanna Desmoulin of the Netamisakomik Anishinabek (Pic Mobert First Nation) (left) and Chief Keith Corston, Chapleau Cree First Nation (right) present Frank Dottori (middle) with a Star Blanket. Star blankets are presented by a man and a woman to honour individuals and to record significant events, such as this partnership. Supplied photo

First Nations Take Ground-breaking Equity Position in Hornepayne Businesses

Click to enlarge. Supplied photo.

HORNEPAYNE, ON – Unique as the North, a ground-breaking partnership points to a model for future resiliency across the North and beyond. The Missanabie Cree, the Chapleau Cree, and the Netamisakomik Anishinabek (Pic Mobert) First Nations are now significant owners in two Hornepayne businesses. Having partnered through the newly formed Northeast Superior First Nation Investment LP, the three First Nations now hold a $4 million equity share in Hornepayne Lumber and Hornepayne Power Inc. A memorandum of understanding towards the equity stake of more than 30 percent was signed in July, and today marks the completion of the deal.

“The scale of this investment by First Nations is a first in Ontario,” said Chief Keith Corston, Chapleau Cree First Nation. “One tree at a time… We’ve got to be part of the business to be able to manage the resources within our territories, and ensure the integrity of our forests. We’re investing here as an investment in our people, our community, our lands, and our future.”

“This is about creating resources to invest back in the healing of our people and to create opportunities for our people to live a good life,” added Chief Johanna Desmoulin of the Netamisakomik Anishinabek.

“This investment creates real opportunities both at the facilities and in the forest operations for members of the First Nations.” said Chief Jason Gauthier of the Missanabie Cree, “Our populations are growing, and as the sector’s workforce ages, our people will be the logical choice for employment.”

To mark the occasion, Chief Jason Gauthier and Councillor Shawn Pine of the Missanabie Cree First Nation, Chief Keith Corston, and Deputy Chief James Fletcher of the Chapleau Cree First Nation, and Chief Johanna Desmoulin of the Netamisakomik Anishinabek were onsite for a tour and celebration including a presentation of a star blanket to Frank Dottori, President and CEO of Hornepayne Lumber and Hornepayne Power Inc.

“Following the successful model we created with our purchase of White River Forest Products, working with the township and the Pic Mobert First Nation, we are delighted that the local First Nations are participating as equal partners in wealth creation and resource management for Hornepayne Lumber and Power.” Dottori said. “We welcome the $4 million investment in order to address capital needs of the cogen facility such as improving the water treatment systems, and to complete our modernization program at the mill, making us more competitive, and thereby ensuring a more stable future.”

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Assistant Deputy Minister, Kathleen McFadden, Gordon King, Senior Aboriginal Affairs Liaison MNRF, as well as Shannon Doyle, Manager, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and Hornepayne Mayor, Morley Forster, were also onsite to congratulate the parties.

“This is the culmination of more than a year of hard work by all the parties at the table to revitalize a bankrupt mill and a stranded cogen asset,” said David Flood, President of Northeast Superior First Nation Investment LP. “This model can be replicated in other communities with First Nations as an important community development catalyst…This is what full participation can look like.”

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Hornepayne Lumber LLP (Formerly Olav Haavaldsrud Timber Company, shuttered in 2015) is a random length sawmill which restarted production in January of 2017, now employs 90 people.

Hornepayne Power Inc. (Formerly Becker Cogen which went into receivership) is a cogeneration plant which utilizes wood waste from the mill to create steam power and supplies heat back to the kiln (symbiotic relationship between the two businesses).  The plant was purchased in October 2016, and currently has 17 employees.

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