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Economic development potential seen for new mill

Construction is about to start on a paper manufacturing facility at Shxwhá:y Village called Whitefeather Tissue and Towel Plant.

It's a unique project that's been years in the making.

The local First Nation, formerly known as Skway First Nation, partnered with Unicell for the first phase to build the 32,000 sq. ft. facility that will be known as Whitefeather.

Eventually jumbo rolls of paper will be milled on-site into tissue paper and paper towels.

At the groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month Shxwhá:y Chief Tina Sam made a strong statement about what the economic development project means for the future.

"Today we are looking at a clean start for Shxwhá:y Village," she said in a release. "Yes, some past council decisions have not been good for our lands, but we have made it our mandate to see clean, economically feasible development succeed on our lands—not just for the present day but for the next seven generations to come."

The project will see Shxwhá:y provide the land and building to house the mill, while Unicell will procure the equipment, install, operate and manage the facility.

The project will be jointly owned by Shxwhá:y Village and Unicell Holdings Inc., according to the release, with a 51 per cent ownership by the First Nation.

"We have been very interested in the idea of a clean, safe business development plan, and we liked the Sharma family’s attitude towards indigenous people around the world," said Murray Sam, CEO of Shxwhá:y Village.

Whitefeather will be the first tissue mill in Canada for the Sharma family. The opportunity will bring local training as well as jobs.

"While we are just breaking ground, today is far from the beginning of this project," said Unicell spokesman Kanu Sharma in a release. "In fact, this early step has been years in the making."

Phase 1, which is the construction phase, will create at least 16 jobs.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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