During the financial crisis of 2009, forest tenures were abandoned and several mills shut down. The inevitable economic fallout that followed — jobs lost, businesses shuttered, services reduced — has haunted them since. Taking a leadership role, the Northeast Superior Chiefs Forum went searching for an alternative economic model. Together, they determined that the values and approaches used by Ecotrust Canada to create conservation economies made sense.
In 2012, Ecotrust Canada worked with local municipalities, industry, and First Nations to gain agreement. In 2013, we published the economic analyses to back up our plan. From 2014-2015, we worked with the Elders to create a vision for their territory and used this vision to drive the design of some new business activities that balance cultural, financial, social, and ecological interests.
The Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs’ Forum established the foundation for Wahkohtowin, an organization that formed in 2016 to advance regional strategic economic opportunities from a non-political, reconciliation-based approach. Ecotrust Canada maintains its partnership with Wahkohtowin on projects related to Indigenous housing, forestry, forest carbon management, and other alternative economic approaches to building a resilient economy in the region.