For the 100th anniversary of Canada’s National Forest Week, Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) wants to highlight Indigenous professionals in the sector to inspire more young people to go into the forest.
“Indigenous Peoples are Canada’s original forest and conservation professionals.
They shape every facet of the sector, creating even more opportunity for their communities and for the next generation of leaders,” said Paul Robitaille, Director of Indigenous and Youth Relations, PLT Canada.
Guy Wright, a member of the K’ómoks First Nation, helps ensure sustainable harvesting so forests grow back healthily. K’ómoks First Nation Forestry uses sustainable forest management to create more economic opportunities for their community.
“I pride myself in getting the best return for our trees, which are renewable assets. Our forestry work supports education and all sorts of other important things for the K’ómoks First Nation,” said Wright.
Now a natural resource manager, Wright first became interested in forestry when he worked for KDC Forestry Consulting. His supervisor convinced him to join the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry, and then he got into forest engineering.
“Planning roads and boundaries was like a puzzle. You need to put the pieces together and make it work. I was hooked!” he said.
The K’ómoks First Nation is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Small-Scale Forest Management Module for Indigenous Peoples, Families and Communities. Companies that are SFI certified are committed to responsible forestry practices, protecting water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and species at risk.
Through PLT Canada’s Green Jobs wage matching program, the K’ómoks First Nation’s Guardian Program hired a young person from their community this summer. The Guardian Program protects their lands and waters with a traditional decision-making approach.
The K’ómoks First Nation also accessed PLT Canada’s Green Skills Training Fund for first aid and forestry equipment training. The fund provides flexibility for Indigenous communities to design and deliver forest-focused training opportunities. It is part of PLT Canada’s evolving suite of programs and services to better support youth’s Green Job experiences. Other supports include pre-employment skills courses, mental health services, mentorship and financial supports, like an equipment subsidy.
PLT Canada works closely with First Nations and non-profit partners to tailor its environmental education and employment programs to meet local needs and co-create positive change.
“I want to help keep growing my First Nation’s businesses so our people can have even more opportunities,” said Wright.
Wright was profiled in PLT Canada’s “A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals,” which is available in English and French and has been translated into Anishinaabemowen and Plains Cree. The guide showcases forest and conservation role models to inspire Indigenous youth to join the exciting sector.
PLT Canada has placed more than 500 Indigenous youth from over 80 different Nations into high quality work experiences—and many of them found placements in their own communities. First Nations, First Nations businesses and community-serving non-profits are all eligible to receive 50% wage matching. Youth and employers can learn more at pltcanada.org!