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VAN COUVER, Sept. 23, 2013 - The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) are pleased to announce that the Opitciwan Sawmill in Quebec has won the FPAC/CCAB Aboriginal Forest Products Business Leadership Award. The company, represented by Stéphane Savard, was honoured today at the CCAB Annual Vancouver Gala.



The award celebrates Aboriginal entrepreneurs for their success in a forest products business that exemplifies business leadership, exceptional environmental and safety performance and the delivery of high-quality products and services. The award recipient must also demonstrate a strong long-term commitment to the Aboriginal community especially Aboriginal employment.



The Opitciwan Sawmill is a joint venture between the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan Quebec and Resolute Forest Products. The Council has a controlling partnership with 55% ownership and is the first Aboriginal Society in eastern Canada to receive Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The sawmill located on reserve land has been the heart of the community for fourteen years employing 125 people or 60% of community residents.



"FPAC is pleased to recognize the Opitciwan Sawmill for their excellent business leadership," said David Lindsay, President and CEO of FPAC. "We applaud their commitment to recruiting Aboriginal employees from the Atikamekw community. As part of our Vision2020, the forest products industry is committed to attracting more Aboriginal workers and this dynamic joint venture highlights how it can be done."



"CCAB prides itself on working with collaborative business leaders who understand the value of Aboriginal entrepreneurs and that's why we are thrilled that the Opitciwan Sawmill has won this prestigious award," said JP Gladu, President and CEO of CCAB. "The collaborative joint venture between the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan and Resolute Forest Products shows how intelligent, profitable partnerships can succeed. The Atikamekw community has extensive knowledge of the area and a talented workforce while Resolute contributes with its forestry expertise and sales."



"We are very pleased to have nominated Opitciwan Sawmill and all of the sawmills members for this award," said Richard Garneau, President and CEO of Resolute Forest Products. "Stéphane and his team have a winning business model, where community, environmental integrity and economic prosperity have consistently been achieved over the past 14 years."



The sawmill has an annual income of $20million. It will shut down production to accommodate local cultural and traditional activities and it has contributed financial support to provide radio and internet service to the community.



"On behalf of the Atikamekw Council of Obedjiwan, we appreciate this recognition by the forest products industry", said Stéphane Savard. "This award recognizes all the hard work done by both our company and our community. We see a long and profitable future for the forest sector and are committed to doing our part for years to come."



There are now about 1400 Aboriginal owned forest product businesses in Canada, and about 17,000 Aboriginal people working in the sector, making the forest products industry in Canada the largest employer for Aboriginal workers.



This is the fourth time the FPAC/CCAB Aboriginal Forest Products Business Leadership Award has been presented. The Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth was recently announced, and the winner will be awarded in the fall of 2013.



FPAC is the voice of Canada's forest producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs. Canada's forest products industry is a $57-billion dollar a year industry that represents 11% of Canada's manufacturing GDP. The industry is one of Canada's largest employers, operating in hundreds of Canadian communities and providing more than 230,000 direct jobs across the country.



About CCAB



The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) was founded in 1984 by a small group of visionary business and community leaders committed to the full participation of Aboriginal people in Canada's economy. A national nonprofit organization, CCAB offers knowledge, resources and programs to both mainstream and Aboriginal owned member companies that foster economic opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses across Canada.

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