Indigenous Youth Explore the Forest and Conservation Sector Through Green Jobs Program

Have you ever wondered about a day in the life of forester? A biologist? A bird bander?

About 130 Indigenous youth across Canada are learning about these green jobs virtually.

Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) is hosting three “Green Jobs: A Day in the Life” webinars for the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP). OYEP is a national network of land-based education, training and work opportunities for Indigenous high school students. This year, they couldn’t visit job sites because of COVID-19.

So, PLT Canada brought the job sites to them.

Employers filmed typical days on the job, which PLT Canada edited into short, fun clips. OYEP camps tune in to watch the videos, meet the professionals behind them and learn more about Green Jobs. 

“[This] is a great idea and will encourage many,” said Catherine Langille, OYEP crew leader in training. “I am happy to be involved with the rangers, and with PLT Canada. As a team, we are glad that we got the opportunity to ask questions over the Zoom call!”

PLT Canada, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and OYEP signed a memorandum of understanding in 2019 to develop more services to meaningfully support Indigenous youth in their education and careers. Through PLT Canada’s Green Jobs program, OYEP has grown from three to six camps, employing over 100 Indigenous youth every summer. 

“Helping youth discover their passions and how those can lead to a career can truly be life changing, and PLT Canada has been instrumental in supporting these opportunities,” said Hamish Black, OYEP Coordinator West.

PLT Canada, an initiative of SFI, works closely with First Nations and non-profit partners like OYEP to tailor its environmental education and employment programs to meet local needs and co-create positive change.

With communities’ feedback, PLT Canada has developed an evolving suite of programs and services to better support youth’s Green Job experiences. This includes pre-employment skills courses, mental health services, mentorship and financial supports, like an equipment subsidy and the Green Skills Training Fund, which provides flexibility for Indigenous communities to design and deliver forest-focused training opportunities.

Langille, who is from Seine River First Nation, has taken advantage of many of PLT Canada’s programs: she was hired into a Green Job, received a scholarship to attend a conference, and participated in the mentorship program.

Langille said her mentor has made her more aware of the opportunities awaiting her in the forest and conservation sector.

“Before meeting with my mentor, my ideas were slightly unclear,” she said. “I am so happy to be a part of this. The knowledge I have gained will last me a lifetime, and so will the connection with my mentor!”

PLT Canada also published “A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals” to showcase inspiring leaders and role models for Indigenous youth. The Guide is available in English and French and has been translated into Anishinaabemowen and Plains Cree.

“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, Senior Manager, Indigenous and Youth Relations, PLT Canada. “We hope to inspire even more young people to find a place for themselves in the forest with their stories.”

PLT Canada has placed more than 500 Indigenous youth from over 80 different Nations into  high quality work experiences—many of whom 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!

Screen grab from one of PLT Canada’s “A Day in the Life” videos created for OYEP. Pictured is Laura Trout, a Professional Biologist with West Fraser. Laura works alongside local stakeholders and interest groups and has been a part of major fish habitat restoration programs and collaborations in Alberta since 2014.