January 31, 2013 – 6:57pm By REMO ZACCAGNA Business Reporter
Chief hopes pact means more jobs at Point Tupper
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs are hoping an agreement with Port Hawkesbury Paper LLC will translate into more jobs at the Point Tupper mill.
The two sides announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, the first step in a process that paves the way for more employment opportunities.
“It’s one of the first steps in working with Port Hawkesbury Paper … to develop some tangible results in the end,” Chief Bob Gloade, chief of the Millbrook First Nation, said in an interview.
Those results include developing a socio-economic benefits agreement between the two parties that would create “meaningful” participation and “bridge the gap” so that First Nations people are involved in forestry and mill operations.
“We want to look at the management of forestry in Nova Scotia and be a part of the process, because one of the things that we’re trying to do is ensure that there’s consultation with the Mi’kmaq people in Nova Scotia,” Gloade said.
An environmental agreement between the mill and assembly would “look for opportunities in forestry in regards to biomass on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Marc Dube, who oversees the mill for owner Pacific West Commercial Corp., an affiliate of Stern Partners Inc. of Vancouver, said the intent of the memorandum is to develop a better working relationship and “find ways so that we have more First Nations people working in our businesses.”
“What we’re hoping to do is develop jobs and business opportunities for the Mi’kmaq people of Nova Scotia,” Dube said in an interview.
“It’s something that we committed to do as a business, and we’re committed to do as a business.”
Gloade said the memorandum does not include a quota for jobs at the mill, which has employed about 230 people since it reopened in October.
“But that’s why we’re working with Port Hawkesbury Paper, and to try and identify and develop a needs assessment between what they’re looking for and what’s available through First Nations communities as far as the employment and opportunities that exist there.”