Partners in the Two Feathers Forest Products (TFFP) initiative were in court last week petitioning to end the partnership that was supposed to establish a new economic stronghold in the region.
Pikangikum First Nation and Eagle Lake First Nation filed a notice of application late last month informing partners Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation and numbered company 1670761 run by Terry Favelle of their wish to dissolve their legal partnership established in November 2008 claiming their relationship has deteriorated due to mismanagement and lack of trust.
Speaking to media from the Pikangikum band office last Friday Chief Jonah Strang said too much of the community’s money had been spent with little progress. “I guess one of the main reasons was one of the main partners that were supposed to be involved never got on board,” said Chief Strang of the involvement of Finnish firm Finnvera Plc. “That is one of the main reasons and I guess those other guys kept on working on it without getting other people involved and it was costing us money.”
The First Nation leader says the community has invested close to $2 million in the initiative and doesn’t expect to see any of that money back as the partnership is dissolved.
According to affidavits filed by both Chief Strang and Eagle Lake First Nation Chief Pam Pitchenese last month, the communities along with Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation executed a Limited Partnership Agreement under the name Two Feathers Forest Products LP in November 2008 to be run by Director Terry Favelle who was a Councillor in Wabigoon Lake at that time.
The Chiefs claim that since its inception, TFFP has failed to achieve its purpose as project conditions including securing financing and securing a wood allocation have not been met. Both Strang and Pitchenese claim relations between the partners “have throughout the course of the Limited Partnership deteriorated to a point where there is a complete lack of trust and mutual confidence”. The Chiefs also allege financial information on the project has been continually withheld and required annual general meetings have not been conducted.
The affidavits note approximately $1.2 million in principal is owed to Canadian creditors and according to the Chiefs “These outstanding debts are greater than any anticipated revenues in the foreseeable future.” Based on the case presented, the leaders are asking for a receiver to be put in place to settle the project’s accounts upon dissolution.
The TFFP was formed in 2008 with the purpose of building a milling operation and heat and power plant in the north that would provide neighbouring communities an economic and job base. The Red Lake component of the operation which was expected to be the primary sawing facility was intended for the Nungesser Road Industrial Park, however, limited progress at the site has resulted in the federal funding agreement expiring calling a halt to further development in that area.
In the 2009 federal Budget Prime Minister Stephen Harper pointed to the TFFP project as an example of the types of projects the Community Adjustment Fund would support to promote economic development across Canada. Currently more than $13 million has been spent from federal departments on this initiative with the provincial government committing a further $3.6 million this past summer for training initiatives.
At press time information on court proceedings held October 12, 2011 were not available.