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Press Release

Award to Recognize Indigenous Leadership in the Forest Industry

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, June 13, 2011 /CNW/ - The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) today announced that nominations are open for a joint FPAC-AFN Business Leadership Award. The award recognizes and celebrates First Nations entrepreneurs for their success in a forest products business that exemplifies business leadership, exceptional environmental and safety performance and the delivery of high-quality products and services. The recipient must also demonstrate a strong, long-term commitment to the Indigenous community, particularly in supporting Indigenous employment. 

"This award will be given to an aboriginal business that shows excellence and creativity in pursing the economic goals of the forestry sector," said Avrim Lazar, the President and CEO of FPAC. "Together with the AFN, we're pursuing our common economic interests, and also ensuring that our shared values in human development, social development and environmental excellence are reflected in everything we do," he said.

FPAC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding under the AFN's Corporate Challenge to see First Nations and forest industry leaders working together to strengthen Canada's forest product sector through economic development initiatives and business investments.  The goal is also to promote strong environmental stewardship practices and the creation of skills development targeted to First Nations youth.

"This award recognizes the effort of entrepreneurs to keep First Nations' communities strong and growing. It also underscores the importance of First Nations in shaping the future of a vibrant Canadian forest industry consistent with our values of respect, responsibility and sustainability," said National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.

There are now approximately 1,400 Aboriginal owned businesses in Canada, and about 17,000 Aboriginal people working in the sector, making the forest products industry the largest employer for First Nations workers.

This is the second time the award will be given.  The first recipient was Grace Esquega, the President of Niigaani Enterprises in Gull Bay, Ontario.  Award nominees are judged against six criteria; Business Leadership, Longevity, Employment of Aboriginal Peoples, Safe and Environmental Performance, Consistency of Goods and Services Provided and Commitment to Aboriginal Community.

Nominations for the FPAC-AFN Business Leadership Award are open until June 20, 2011. The award will be presented on July 14 at the AFN General Assembly in Moncton, New Brunswick.   To obtain an application, please visit or  A second award aimed at Indigenous Youth between ages 18 to 25 will soon be announced as well. 

FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 240,000 direct jobs across the country.