Thunder Bay

Pic River First Nation launches Mkwa Timber forestry company

A new timber company has begun harvesting wood for transport to parts of northwestern Ontario.

Mkwa Timber says wood harvesting operation to employ 8 local residents

The Pic River First Nation says their new forestry operation will deliver timber to the mill in the northwestern Ontario township of Terrace Bay. The company president says a similar agreement is being negotiated with mill owners in White River. (P.E.I. Woodlot Owners Association)

A new timber company on the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation (formerly Pic River First Nation), about 350 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, has begun harvesting wood for transport to parts of northwestern Ontario. 

Mkwa Timber announced it will deliver timber to the mill in the township of Terrace Bay. The company is also negotiating with mill owners in White River about a similar agreement, the company president told CBC News.

Byron LeClair said the community has a long history in forestry, and that its new operation will provide a stable supply of wood to local mills.

"We told a lot of [mill owners] that companies come, companies go, our community is going to be here forever,'" he said.

In a news release, the First Nation said they will employ eight people from the community to harvest the wood.

The new operation is wholly owned by the First Nation.

Mkwa Timber President Byron LeClair says he wants to see the company expand into other areas, such as sawmill operations and producing commercial firewood. (Byron LeClair)

Last year, the First Nation bought several pieces of equipment in preparation for its business launch as the community seeks to expand its forestry capabilities.

That expansion could include moving into areas such as sawmill operations, producing wood pellets for residential use, and commercially-available firewood, LeClair said, adding that he's also looking for business opportunities related to the Ontario government's project to connect northeastern and northwestern Ontario via a new transmission line.

"We're really positioning ourselves as the primary service provider when it comes to forestry clearing services, right-of-way services, those types of things," he said.

"I don't think it's unrealistic to expect that Mkwa Timber is going to grow to a company, starting out with eight employees, to anywhere from 40 to 50 employees," said LeClair.