Canadian pension funds face First Nations opposition to timber acquisition

Injunction sought by tribal group

Canadian pension fund investors British Columbia Investment Management Corp. and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board are facing opposition from a First Nations advocacy group over their C$910m (€658.3m) proposed acquisition of western Canada’s largest private timber and land management company TimberWest Forest Corp.
The funds announced the deal in April. United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment signatory BCIMC manages $86bn for public bodies and publicly administered trust funds while PSP Investments has C$46.3bn of assets for public bodies like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
It’s emerged that the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, which represents six First Nations tribes, is opposing the transaction – which it says it includes113,208 hectares of forested lands and irreplaceable eco-systems within its member nations’ traditional territory.

The group has filed a request for immediate assistance in the form of precautionary measures, which it likenedto an injunction, from the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). It’s opposing the sale as there was no consultation “as required under Canada’s international human rights treaty obligations”.

“This is a matter between a treaty group and the Government of Canada and it’s been going on for years frankly,” TimberWest CEO Paul McElligott was quoted as saying by the Globe & Mail newspaper. It added the funds declined to comment.
“We hope that the Inter-American Commission’s deliberation on the Hul’qumi’num case will help break the impasse faced by so many Indigenous peoples in Canada,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Alex Neve.

TimberWest said it “fully disclosed” the various First Nations claims against the Canadian and British Columbia Governments to the two pension funds and other potential buyers. It added the sale should have no on the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group’s claims.