A small community north of Kenora is getting a slice of the disposable wooden cutlery industry.
Wabauskang First Nation will provide a company in BC, called Aspenware, with thin pieces of poplar from the Whiskey Jack Forest.
Aspenware president Terry Bigsby said the partnership between his company and Wabauskang will create jobs in the community.
"It gives an opportunity for folks in that First Nation to actually have great employment, a great job and not have to drive an hour or be two hours away from home all the time," he said.
Bigsby said Aspenware will begin receiving the poplar from Wabauskang within a month.
Shipping the wood out of town will keep community members at home.
"Growing up in this area, I always saw logging trucks heading out, one after another," said Doug Riffel, whose company, Makoose Wood Innovations, has taken on the Aspenware contract.
"There was never any jobs in our community or in the area for us. If I wasn't doing this with my business, I'd likely be living in some other town."
Wabauskang First Nation is 120 km from Kenora, the nearest city.
Currently Riffel employs 10 people from Wabauskang, but that work force is about to double, thanks to the disposable wooden cutlery work.
"Forestry is coming back [but] the profit margins are low," he said. "[We’re] staying afloat by being creative [and]
looking for opportunities like Aspenware."
The community’s population ranges between 70 and 100 people. If the company continues to grow its operations, Riffel said he'll have to draw workers from surrounding First Nation communities.
Makoose got its start through a working relationship developed with Goldcorp Red Lake Gold Mines to make core sample trays.