Ginoogaming First Nation (GFN) Chief and Council are thrilled to announce a $300,000 grant from the Government of Canada’s Indigenous Forestry Initiative to study the potential construction of a large engineered-wood-product mill on GFN territory. This project stands to benefit local communities, existing industry stakeholders, and government ministries by rebuilding, promoting, and stabilizing the forest-based economy in the region for future generations.
The study will explore how this project aligns with Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, specifically the aim to increase harvest by using an underutilized low-quality hardwood supply. The project considers the construction of an Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL) mill, using approximately 600,000 m3 of poplar, aspen, and birch from the Kenogami and surrounding forests.
GFN Chief Sheri Taylor expressed her excitement, stating, “This feasibility study will serve to attract investors, both in Canada and internationally, to partner with GFN to bring this project to fruition.” She added that it was a promising time for Ginoogaming First Nation, as the community harbors a deep-rooted ambition to establish a forest-based economy that will benefit not only their own community but also neighboring Indigenous communities and the municipality of Greenstone.
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, acknowledged the historical exclusion of many Indigenous communities from economic opportunities, leading to poverty and poor social outcomes. She stated, “This feasibility study to create a plant in Ginoogaming is an important step towards equal opportunity for the community to benefit from the forestry sector that operates all around them. I look forward to hearing about the results.”
Echoing this sentiment, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, added, “The Government of Canada is supporting Indigenous-led economic initiatives across the country. We are pleased to support Ginoogaming First Nation’s initiative to study the creation of a new plant that could support job creation and sustainable economic prosperity throughout the region.”
The feasibility study, which is expected to be complete by summer 2023, will be conducted with the help of Ontario-based experts, including Kozar Engineering, Ne-Daa-Kii-Me-Naan Inc., ArboVitae Consulting Services, and R J Knauff & Associates. The potential mill, which would use 600,000 m3 of unused aspen, poplar, and birch from area forests to manufacture 550,000 sq. ft. of OSB or LSL for the building construction market, is expected to take approximately 36 months to complete at a cost of over $400 million. During construction, hundreds of jobs will be created, and once operational, the mill will have over 100 direct employees and create around 300 indirect jobs in wood harvesting, transportation, and mill supply and service.