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The Crees reopen the Waswanipi sawmill with Chantiers Chibougamau

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(Waswanipi) Chantiers Chibougamau, in collaboration with the Cree Nation of Waswanipi and its forestry branch Corporation Mishtuk, is modernizing the Bois d’oeuvre cri sawmill, located about twenty kilometers from the Aboriginal village.

Cree lumber is 51% owned by Mishtuk and 49% by Chantiers Chibougamau, a partnership that took four years of negotiations to become a reality.

The lumber will be used to build the houses the Crees desperately need and to supply the secondary and tertiary processing plants of Chantiers Chibougamau.

Due to population growth, the Crees will need 5,200 housing units over the next 15 years.

“Initially, 10% of the lumber will be reserved for the needs of the Cree community,” says Chris Cooper, project manager for Cree Lumber.

For the manufacturer Chantiers Chibougamau, the sawmill has the advantage of being close to the forest resource and where there is available labour.

A modern sawmill

According to Frédéric Verreault, executive director of corporate development at Chantiers Chibougamau, the sawmill is the only manufacturing company on Cree territory.

  • The new Cree Lumber sawmill is the only manufacturing company on Cree territory.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    The new Cree Lumber sawmill is the only manufacturing company on Cree territory.

  • Approximately 10% of the new sawmill's lumber production will be reserved for community needs, including housing.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Approximately 10% of the new sawmill’s lumber production will be reserved for community needs, including housing.

  • The dignitaries sawed off a spruce tree rather than cutting the traditional ribbon.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    The dignitaries sawed off a spruce tree rather than cutting the traditional ribbon.

  • Part of the equipment was recovered from another sawmill.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Part of the equipment was recovered from another sawmill.

  • Wood stored in the sawmill yard

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Wood stored in the sawmill yard

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The sawmill, largely automated, has a capacity of 70,000 cubic meters per year with the possibility of increasing it to 120,000 cubic meters over time. The wood allocations reserved for the Crees resulting from the Paix des braves could be used to support the activities of the plant.

Thirty workers spread over three shifts will find work. In addition to the 30 jobs in the factory, the company contributes to sustaining about a hundred jobs in the forest at Mishtuk. The works and state-of-the-art equipment required an investment of 20 million. The start of production is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023.

The Waswanipi sawmill is becoming one of the most modern in Quebec, support its co-owners.

Reopening

The plant was inaugurated Thursday in the presence of Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec Mandy Gull-Masty and Quebec ministers Pierre Fitzgibbon and Ian Lafrenière. For the occasion, the dignitaries cut a spruce tree rather than the traditional ribbon.

This is a reopening, since the place had been operating until 2012. It was operated for years by Domtar.

“Today’s announcement is a significant first step in the place the Crees want to occupy in the development of their territory,” said the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec.

The $20 million investment is broken down as follows: Chantiers Chibougamau, the Nation of Waswanipi and the Cree Nation provide just over a third of the money; Investissement Québec (loan of 7 million), Economic Development Canada (2.4 million), Natural Resources Canada, Cree Nation Government and the Société de développement de la Baie-James (loan of 1.3 million) contributed to the ‘investment.

The travel costs of The Press were assumed by Chantiers Chibougamau.

Learn more

  • 169
    Number of sawmills holding a permit in Quebec

    Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks of Quebec



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