Paper company helps plant 1,000 trees at Cumberland House

Trees to act as an ecosystem buffer for key areas around the community

Katie Leason, geographic information systems (GIS) coordinator, Cumberland Wood Products, drops off the tree seedings to the Cumberland House Cree Nation. Submitted photo

Pulp and paper company Paper Excellence, which is headquartered in Richmond B.C., has partnered with Cumberland Wood Products (CWP) to plant 1,000 jack pine seedlings in and around Cumberland House.  

Jack pine trees are a native species to Saskatchewan, providing a habitat for many plant and animal species. The seedlings planted this year are to provide a natural “ecosystem buffer” for key areas around the northern Saskatchewan community, and to naturally enhance regrowth on Cumberland House Cree Nation territory.

“Realizing this project’s success with Paper Excellence and our shareholder, Cumberland House Cree Nation, demonstrates the potential of partnership for social, environmental, and economic benefit” Cumberland Wood Products CEO Aaron Kuchirka said.

“Cumberland Wood Products is an ecosystem services management company that sees tremendous partnership and commercial relationship potential within the forestry industry and other sectors.”

Cumberland House Cree Nation formed CWP to bring economic benefits directly to the communities and shareholders of the Saskatchewan River Delta. 

Paper Excellence committed to the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program on June 10 – the program is administered by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

“Paper Excellence understands the importance of being good neighbours and greatly values its relationships with Indigenous communities,” said Carlo Dal Monte, vice president — energy and strategic development for Paper Excellence. 

“We’re pleased to be able to partner with Cumberland Wood Products on this project to support Cumberland House Cree Nation in the conservation and utilization of resources in their traditional territory.”

This spring, using seedlings facilitated by Paper Excellence through its partnership in Meadow Lake, CWP managed the plant with several volunteers from the community.

“We value these opportunities to build relationships with local Indigenous communities,” Paper Excellence spokesperson Dale Richardson said. 

“Paper Excellence has worked in partnership with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council through Mistik Management Limited for the last decade. However, we recognize we have more work to do and this is a small step in the right direction.”

In February it was announced that Prince Albert’s pulp and paper mill could come back into operation as early as 2023 — after a $600,000 injection from parent company Paper Excellence.

The company said it will be employing 200 people and will contribute more than $300 million per year to the economies of Prince Albert and Saskatchewan. 

Paper Excellence bought the mill in 2011 from Domtar and the company is now doing engineering and consulting work. A non-compete clause in the purchase agreement expired in March. 

The company struck an agreement in May to acquire all Domtar shares. The all-cash transaction represents a value of around $3.0 billion and is expected to close in the second half of this year.

On Jan. 10 the company announced that several key roles have been filled —as work to restart the Prince Albert pulp mill ramps up. 

Charles Ray was hired as director of project delivery to ensure the project is completed on time, within budget and follows all safety and environmental standards.

A variety of Saskatchewan-based consultants were hired to help complete engineering plans and environmental studies to restart the mill — including consultants at Stantec, Clifton & Associates, Associated Engineering, and Lambourne.

Local scholarships have been made available to community and First Nations high school graduates living in Prince Albert and are entering their first year at a public university, community college or institute of technology.

A national scholarship has also been made available for Métis high school graduates.