Topic: Uncategorized

Canada launches transformative effort to save Pacific salmon

Vancouver, British Columbia – Pacific salmon have social and cultural significance for many Canadians and they are economically vital to many local communities. These iconic species are experiencing drastic population declines due to a combination of climate, habitat and harvesting pressures. Bold, transformative action is needed now to stabilize, protect and rebuild West Coast salmon stocks for the ecosystems and communities that depend on them, before it is too late.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced the guiding principles of the federal government’s $647.1 million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI) announced in Budget 2021, and a full commitment to work in partnership with local organizations and groups in its development and delivery. The strategy will represent the largest-ever Government investment in efforts to save Pacific salmon, and aims to stop the declines now while helping rebuild populations over the longer term.

The PSSI is a comprehensive initiative that will build on and support the years of work and wisdom that grassroots organizations, Indigenous communities, scientists and others have already put into efforts to protect and recover Pacific salmon. In the coming months, DFO will invite key partners to the table to identify and prioritize actions to support healthy salmon – a necessary, holistic approach that has not been undertaken before.

The plan will guide investments and action in four key areas: conservation and stewardship, enhanced hatchery production, harvest transformation, and integrated management and collaboration.

The four pillars of the PSSI are designed to support a strategic and coordinated long term response, rooted in collaborative action. They represent stronger science and habitat restoration, stabilizing and growing the salmon populations, sustainable and reliable fisheries, and deeper communication and coordination between partners.

New policies, programs, and actions under each pillar of the strategy will move ahead in collaboration with the wide range of Indigenous partners, harvesters, recreational fishers, stakeholders, and communities who depend on Pacific salmon, and who have the knowledge to contribute to Canada’s effort  to sustain and rebuild Pacific salmon stocks.

Welcome to BC Achievement’s inaugural newsletter. The first issue is dedicated to the individuals who strengthen this province through their efforts, skill and courage. Join us and together we will elevate excellence, share success and inspire change.

 Nominations Open: June 1 – June 30

It’s time to #nominatenowBC for the 2021 Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program. The nomination process creates space for Indigenous entrepreneurs to share their dreams, their hard lessons and, give a new definition to what success means in their world. 
Read more

Nominations Open: June 1 – July 7

Are you an artist, or do you know an artist who demonstrates excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art? Nominate them now for a 2021 Fulmer Award in First Nations ArtRead more

Nominations Open: June 1 – July 14

June is Nominate Now month and the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design is open for your nomination. Help honour excellence and inspire achievement in Applied Art and Design (AAD) throughout the province. Read more 

BC Achievement and The Office of the Lieutenant Governor announce the inaugural Reconciliation Award recipients
The recipients of the inaugural BC Reconciliation Awardhave been announced and include individuals and organizations who further reconciliation through meaningful action. Be prepared to be moved by these incredible stories. Read more

The 18th annual Community Award celebrates 25 inspiring citizens

There are some incredible people doing amazing work in their own communities – taking on leadership roles, volunteer task, and inspiring others through their selfless actions. These Community Award recipients are heroes – which ones do you know? Read more

Nominations Called for BC’s Indigenous Business, First Nations Art and Applied Art + Design Communities

British Columbia’s Indigenous Business, First Nations Art and Applied Art + Design communities will be  honoured through programs presented by the BC Achievement Foundation beginning with the nomination launch on June 1, 2021. June is Nominate Now! month and province-wide invitations to #nominatenowbc  for all three programs are accessed through 

“We encourage British Columbians to Nominate Now! and lift up models of success for all to follow,” said  foundation chair, Anne Giardini, QC, OBC, OC. “The programming BC Achievement offers contributes to  the province’s social, entrepreneurial and cultural landscapes while nurturing innovation. It is our profound  privilege to share these stories,” she added. 

Independent juries representing experts in each of the three program areas review the nominations and  select the awardees who will be honoured through films and a social media celebration campaign in the  Fall. Plans for the annual in-person presentation galas remain on hold as COVID protocols are evaluated. 

BC Achievement is an independent foundation celebrating the spirit of excellence in our province and  honouring the best of British Columbia. With a mission to honour excellence and inspire achievement its  award programs pay tribute to exceptional people, doing exceptional work while inspiring others to build  stronger and more engaged communities. 

Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change. 

Indigenous Business Award (IBA) Program – Nominations Open: June 1 – 30 
Honouring excellence and inspiring achievement in Indigenous business and entrepreneurship throughout the  province. Serving as a catalyst for change and opportunity, the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program aims to  cultivate innovation while leveraging mutual interests. Creating an authentic space where collaborative and  strategic partnerships can thrive together, awardee recognition gives voice to Indigenous entrepreneurship  while modelling success. 

Leigh Joseph, 2020 IBA Awardee states that it is crucial to acknowledge excellence and increase  Indigenous representation in the business and entrepreneurship space. “Representation matters. The more  Indigenous businesses that are successful, the more inspiration there will be for up-and-coming Indigenous  entrepreneurs to pursue their entrepreneurial path. The more stories of resilience, strength and innovation  that are shared from Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs the more we as a society shift the narratives 

of trauma and deficit that are often at the forefront of news stories amid ongoing anti-Indigenous racism  that exists in our country.”

The Indigenous Business Award program is presented by BC Achievement in partnership with the Ministry  of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and is generously supported by: Program Sponsor – TD Bank  Group; Category Sponsors – Enbridge, New Relationship Trust, Ovintiv Inc., Teck, Vancity, and Vancouver  Fraser Port Authority; Supporting Sponsors – ANTCO, BC Hydro, BC Transit, CN, FortisBC, and Shaw; and  Media Sponsors – BIV, CFNR and First Nations Drum. 

Fulmer Award in First Nations Art – June 1 – July 7 
Honouring excellence and inspiring achievement in First Nations Art throughout the province. 

Celebrating the intersection of art and culture, while honouring First Nations artistic traditions, the program  creates a platform for community engagement, mentorship and storytelling.  

“I have been weaving, teaching, and researching the Northwest Coast textiles for more than 30 years. This  is the first award acknowledging my many years in the art of weaving. The Fulmer Award is, at this point  in my career, encouraging and validates my efforts in bringing the traditional arts of the textiles forward  to future weavers as well as making the textiles more known in the milieu of indigenous arts.” Evelyn  Vanderhoop, 2020 Awardee of Distinction, Fulmer Award in First Nations Art 

BC Achievement is grateful to The Fulmer Foundation for its generous support of the First Nations Art  program. 

Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design Program – Nominations Open June 1 – July 14
Honouring excellence and inspiring achievement in Applied Art and Design throughout the province. 

Celebrating British Columbians whose work directly contributes to the cultural and economic fabric of the  province, the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design shines a light on functional art which enhances  day-to-day life for individuals while enriching our collective experiences. 

Karen Konzuk, reflects on the impact of receiving the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design in  2020. “It was a very exciting moment for me to hear I was recognized for my work, especially knowing  this group of awardees was recognized for innovation. I feel this is a key element to my design that helps  me to stand out from my competition.” She also feels it is important to acknowledge artistic excellence in  applied art and design. “The world of art and design is extremely saturated and at times, it is hard to  stand out. With social media and everything being digital there are a lot of copycats. To be recognized  for the dedication we put into original design, attention to detail, and innovation brings us to the forefront  and gives credibility to the work we have achieved.”

BC Achievement is grateful for the generosity of the Yosef Wosk Family Foundation toward the Carter  Wosk Award program. 

Join us TOMORROW at 1:00pm EDT for the COVID-19 FNHMA Town Hall!

THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED 4th Series of the FNHMA Covid-19 Town Hall

TOMORROW – Wednesday, APRIL 21at 1 pm ESTNow broadcasted on APTN every Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm – Please check your local listings
Read the official release here Series 4 of the COVID-19: A First Nations Health Managers Association Virtual Town Hall WATCH LIVE TOMORROW
Claudine Santos, President, VIO VolunteersDr. Tom Wong, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer of Public Health, Indigenous Services CanadaHosted & Moderated by Marion Crowe, CEO, FNHMA
Watch the LIVE broadcast on Indigenous Health Today every Wednesday
Available in French & English
Rebroadcasted on APTN Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm

French & English translations provided – English: 

Federal Budget 2021-22: A Step in the Right Direction

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) is reacting  to the tabling of the federal budget. The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister  and Minister of Finance of Canada, unveiled today the 2021-22 federal budget called “A Recovery  Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience”. 

This five-year budget invests more than $18 billion overall to further close the existing gaps  between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in areas such as the fight against COVID-19,  education services, health and social services, security, culture and economic recovery. 

Substantial investments of $6 billion are also planned for infrastructure in Indigenous communities. The funding could be linked to various projects of this nature, for example, drinking  water supply or housing projects. “Housing is a major priority for the First Nations Chiefs in  Quebec. Any announcement of additional funds to help our communities build more housing is  obviously welcomed when we know that 10,000 new units are needed to meet the needs,” said  Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL. 

Although significant, these investments are still insufficient. “Our figures clearly show that regular  budgets are far from meeting the housing needs of First Nations. The new funding announced is  timely as the last federal housing initiative ended on March 31st. Of course, it will not meet all the  needs, but it will help us do more, especially since our communities are also faced with  skyrocketing construction costs,” said Chief Lance Haymond. 

“When we work to improve living conditions by investing in housing, we contribute, at the same  time, to solving important issues on other levels, such as health, education and economic  development. For example, increasing the housing stock will certainly contribute to making our  communities less vulnerable in this period of pandemic,” concluded AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard 

The 22nd Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival Announces Expanded Digital Presentation

We are happy to announce that the annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will once again take place online from October 19 – 24, 2021. Building off the success of last year’s virtual Festival, we will offer six days of online programming and events.

“We, like everyone else, are eager to see a return to a physical and live event, but our main priority is and has always been the health and well being of the artists, festival goers, our staff and community,” said Naomi Johnson, Executive Director of imagineNATIVE. “We hope that those who have supported imagineNATIVE will return to this online presentation to engage and enjoy in Indigenous creative works with our digital offering at the Festival in October.”

The decision to mount a digital presentation resulted from a series of discussions that included imagineNATIVE leadership, the board of directors, and other stakeholders. The 2020 online festival allowed for a broader outreach with over 29,576 viewing across Canada, the US, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and select European countries.

Our Call for Submissions for the 2021 Festival is open! We are accepting Film + Video, Digital + Interactive, and Audio works for our Festival. Please review the updated 2021 Festival Artistic Policy and the Year-Round Artistic Policy.

Submissions are due by Monday, May 31, 2021 at 11:59 ET.2021 Festival DetailsCall for Submissions


Upcoming Events
Futurisms | FREE | Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 4:00 PM ET
Futurisms brings together Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, and Black artists in conversation around disruptive recountings, future tellings to witness current intersections of Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futurisms. This panel features moderator Jessie Ray Short in conversation with Zainab AmadahySyrus Marcus WareNisi Shawl, and Asinnajaq. A live Q&A will follow the event and a playlist of work curated by imagineNATIVE’s Teineisha Richards will be available to view after the panel.

RSVP to Futurisms | Pre-Register for the Playlist ScreeningFuturisms: Skawennati | FREE | Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 2:00 PM ET

In partnership with REEL Canada’s National Canadian Film Day, we are proud to present this community screening of an epic sci-fi double bill: She Falls For Ages (2017) and The Peacemaker Returns (2017). Our artist talk, moderated by Andrea Carlson, is a deep dive into the worlds of Kanienkeha:ka artist, Skawennati whose practice seamlessly passes through the past and future unbound by time.

RSVP to Futurisms: Skawennati | Pre-Register for the ScreeningLIFT Retrospective | FREE | Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:00 PM ET

Join us and our friends at the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) and the Harbour Collective for a look back at the films produced as part of the LIFT/imagineNATIVE Mentorship, a program supporting Indigenous filmmakers in the Greater Toronto Area as they develop their practice through creatively diverse projects. The screening will be followed by a conversation with artists Tim MylesJamie WhitecrowJaene F. Castrillon, and Jani Lauzon, moderated by Liz Barron of the Harbour Collective.

Register for the RetrospectiveRememory, A Practice: A Film Premiere | FREE | Friday, April 23, 2021 at 5:00 PM ET

imagineNATIVE and TakingITGlobal invite you to join us for the dual premiere screenings of an inspirational film, The Strength of My Spirit, and an empowering documentary confronting racism and shadeism, Two Beating Drums, both of which were written and directed by Dana Jeffrey-Khan! This event will also feature a panel, moderated by Adriana Chartrand (imagineNATIVE) and including panelists Dana Jeffrey-Khan (The Strength of My SpiritTwo Beating Drums), Michael Solomon(The Strength of My Spirit), and Tasha Toulouse (Two Beating Drums).

RSVP to the Premiere Screenings + Panel

CSIF Mentorship
Calling all Treaty 7 Indigenous filmmakers with a nearly complete short!

Applications for our mentorship in partnership with the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) and Telus STORYHIVE are now open! This mentorship has been re-imagined this year to accommodate the uncertainties of production during COVID. This is an opportunity for a filmmaker with an already-shot short film to complete it in post and have it premiere at the 22nd annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in October 2021.

Applications are due Monday, April 19, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET!Learn More + Apply Now

2021 imagineNATIVE Tour
The imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour is one of imagineNATIVE’s largest initiatives outside of our annual Festival. The 2021 imagineNATIVE Tour brings Indigenous-made film and video works, as well as community engagement activities to communities across Turtle Island (Canada).

Curated by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director, Niki Little, the 2021 imagineNATIVE Tour Programs are a selection of Canadian works from the 2020 Festival. This year encompasses a Short Films Focus, a Documentary Film Focus, and a Dramatic Film Focus.

Are you participating in a 2021 imagineNATIVE Tour screening? Try out our new clapper and film reel AR filters on Facebook and Instagram! Make sure to tag us so we can all celebrate the incredible Indigenous films touring with imagineNATIVE together!Learn More + Book NowBanff World Media Festival
Join imagineNATIVE at Banff World Media Festival, taking place June 14, 2021 through July 16, 2021!

Just because we are not physically together doesn’t mean we can’t make meaningful industry connections. Meet face to face from the comfort of your office or home, listen and ask questions in intimate sessions with showrunners and directors, enjoy a beverage with executives and buyers, or even pitch your project. It’s all possible with Banff World Media Festival. These networking opportunities are available exclusively with their MARKETPLACE PASS.

Use your exclusive imagineNATIVE promo code imagineNATIVEBANFF21 to save $300 off on your MARKETPLACE

PASS.Learn More + Register Now

imagineNATIVE Store
The imagineNATIVE Store will have delays in delivery of orders due to the Ontario wide stay at home order. Our first priority is the continued safety of our employees. We appreciate your continued support and understanding during this time. Shop Now

Bill 79: To ensure that justice is served for our children and families

Wendake, April 1, 2021 – Inspired by the motivation to ensure justice for First Nations  and Inuit families who have lost a child in a Quebec institution, the Assembly of First  Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health  and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) are presenting a joint brief on Bill 79 to the  National Assembly of Québec. 

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls  (NIMMIWG) brought to light the treatment to which these First Nations families suffering  from the disappearance or death of children have been subjected. 

The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC have emphasized the inhumane nature of the treatment  to which the children and families of our nations have been subjected as well as the denial  by Quebec institutions of their fundamental right to the truth. 

Let us also remember the government’s approach, in the fall of 2019, when it tried to  respond to the NIMMIWG’s Call for Justice no. 20 by quickly incorporating six  amendments aimed at the “communication of personal information to families of missing  or deceased Indigenous children” in a bill whose object was quite different, completely  unrelated, all without consulting the main stakeholders or offering them the opportunity  to testify publicly. 

On December 9, 2020, the Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière,  introduced Bill 79, An Act to authorize the communication of personal information to the  families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an  institution. This Bill aims to support families in their search for information. 

The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC are uniting their voices with those of family  representatives to argue that the objective of the bill is too restrictive and does not allow  the fundamental right to the truth, fostering true healing, to be exercised. 

“These are serious matters that prove the flagrant lack of sensitivity of Quebec  institutions towards our peoples, particularly when one considers the barriers, such as  cultural and linguistic ones, that families wishing to hire a lawyer may face. This speaks  volume on the systemic discrimination and racism towards Quebec First Nations and Inuit 

resulting from of an archaic institutional framework inherited from colonialism,” said  Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors. 

In a general sense, the two organizations salute the Government of Quebec’s desire to  support families who have experienced such a tragedy and to alleviate their suffering. On  the other hand, certain aspects of the bill should be reconsidered in order to better  support families who wish to initiate research. The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC particularly recommend the following: 

• That the five-year limitation period be repealed for making a disclosure of  information request. 

• That the period covered by a request for access to personal information be  extended from 1940, instead of 1950, to present day, rather than ending in 1989. There are indications that there may have been admissions prior to 1940. 

• That families, in addition to being allowed to obtain information on the  circumstances surrounding the disappearance or death of their children, also be  allowed to obtain information on the underlying causes. 

• That families be allowed to file a complaint in their language of origin and have  access to interpreters. 

• That the Government of Quebec clarify the measures to support families,  undertake to provide services requested by families (e.g., psychosocial services)  and guarantee financial support to assist families in their research. 

“Even if I consider it inconceivable that our families are required to comply with a  framework that is totally foreign to them in order to gain access to justice and dignity, we  are committed to supporting them. The government must do the same and, above all, be  humane and allow them to get the answers to which they are entitled. For once, the law  must adapt to our realities rather than the other way around,” stated AFNQL Chief  Ghislain Picard. To read the brief, click here (French only). Please note that the English version will be  available at a later time.

Media Release: Supreme Court Decision on Carbon Pricing Important Step Forward

The National Farmers Union (NFU) applauds today’s decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to declare the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA) constitutionally valid.  This decision confirms the federal government’s jurisdiction to take strong national leadership action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard the future for all Canadians.

NFU President Katie Ward summed up the NFU’s approach to the case: “The NFU became an intervenor in the Supreme Court case, not because our organization endorses the federal government’s current greenhouse gas pricing measures, but because the NFU strongly supports the federal government’s constitutional authority to create national policies to reduce emissions.  This decision clears the way for strong federal leadership and enforcement powers coupled with ongoing federal, provincial, and territorial work rooted in the principles and traditions of co-operative federalism.”

NFU members strongly believe that the current climate emergency requires strong, swift Canadian government action.  NFU member Glenn Wright stated: “The facts are clear: we must accelerate the transition to clean energy and efficiency in order to mitigate the severity of the Climate Crisis, safeguard our food supply, and protect biodiversity, and we must turn our attention to creating opportunities through collaboration across multiple jurisdictions.”  

The NFU and its coalition partners in Farmers for Climate Solutions (FCS) have put forward a comprehensive list of government policies that can assist farmers in reducing agricultural emissions.  “This decision clears the way for the federal government to expand efforts to support farmers in reducing emissions.  Farmers want to lead in the struggle to safeguard the climate and food system and reduce emissions, but we need strong federal partnership.  This decision paves the way for that federal action” said NFU Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action, Darrin Qualman.

 For more on the decision and its context, please see attached backgrounder.

Under the Northern Sky — A Legacy Of Kindness


My home community is mourning the loss of two special Elders who were deeply loved and admired by so many in Attawapiskat. My Aunt Theresa Kataquapit was a kind matriarch to her family and encouraged and supported those around her quietly with openness and love. My Uncle John Paulmartin was a highly respected hunter and trapper who raised his family to become strong capable individuals and he taught so many of us to be good and hard working through his quiet example. Neither Elder Theresa or Elder John held major political positions in the community but they greatly influenced so many lives in Attawapiskat during their lifetimes. 

My aunt Theresa was born and raised in the Iahtail family.  Her parents Joseph Iahtail and Mary (Wabano) Iahtail raised their traditional family along the banks of the Ekwan River system north of Attawapiskat. Theresa grew up learning all the skills of survival on the land. Aunt Theresa was also a very spiritual person who followed the Catholic religion and understood the similarities those beliefs held to our traditional and cultural beliefs. 

She raised her family in Attawapiskat with her husband Gabriel and she followed her children as they pursued their secondary education in Timmins. Gabriel was my father Marius’ brother. She was there for her boys every day and in every way as a rock of strength, wisdom and love they could always count on in unfamiliar lands while going to school and working. It must have been difficult for her to leave her husband Gabriel for long periods of time while he kept the homestead afloat in Attawapiskat. They realized it was a good thing to do in the name of education and the results are proven in the eight boys that have grown into strong, kind and capable men.  Their sons Robert, Brian, Steve, Jeffery, Ron, Eric, Norman and Lindy carry all of the kindness, good humour, openness and strength of their parents and they all have good knowledge of their language, culture and traditions.  Aunt Theresa took the time in Timmins to become connected to so many Indigenous programs and services that helped other young people from the James Bay coast and northern Ontario. 

In everything she did, she shared our unique form of Cree humour and plenty of laughter and at one point was featured as part of a cast of Cree puppeteers dedicated to language teachings. Her husband, a traditional James Bay fiddle player, shared that same sense of fun and I can imagine all the times they must have shared around the jigs and reels they played when they were young. 

My uncle John, who is an older brother to my mother Susan, was born and raised on the Nawashi River further north of the Ekwan River to a strong and proud Paulmartin family. The Paulmartin clan was a tight knit group of hard working individuals headed by their parents Xavier Paulmartin and Louise (Chookomolin) Paulmartin. The Paulmartin men were excellent hunters and trappers and John became famous in our community as one of the best of all the men in his generation. His skill was so great that he was known to many as ‘Meeheegun’, the Cree word for wolf, an animal being that every hunter respected and honoured. 

He married his wife Mary Louise who was part of the Koostachin clan from Lakitusaki (Lake River) and they raised their children Margaret, Clara, Bessie, Linda, Steve, Norbert, Laurette, Michael, Terry and Hubert to become as equally talented and capable as their parents. However, their son Paul died as a child. This was another family that for a time separated their parents for the father to hold their house in Attawapiskat and their mother to guide their children in Timmins. 

Uncle John worked all his life, whether it was out on the land with traditional pursuits or taking on modern technology as an electrical technician in the community. He was a quiet man who reminded me of his father, our grandfather Xavier Paulmartin. When Uncle John did share his stories, he was a library of knowledge and history about his family and our people. He shared and passed on much of this vast knowledge to his children, grandchildren, great grand children and other young hunters and trappers. 

Both Aunt Theresa and Uncle John were the same in many ways. They quietly influenced so many individuals over their lifetimes that their contributions helped to shape our home community. They led by example through their constant work ethic, their connection to their faith, their respect of the land and for the love of their families, their community and anyone else that came into their lives. 

Although they are gone, I know they will still be around in the hearts and minds of all their children and their many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Kitchi-Meegwetch Toosis Tenes nesh-tah Nookoomis Chon, Kee-sah-kee-eh-tee-nan. 


A fishing rod standing upright next to a hole in the ice.

Blaze Head, a high school student and member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN), organized a virtual family ice fishing derby on Saskatchewan River from Umpherville to BigEddy.

OCN Community members can fish on their own time between March 15–21 and send in a recorded video for the chance to win over $3,000 in prizes in categories like biggest fish, ugliest fish and keeping the tradition alive (teaching your child how to fillet a fish)! And there’s already an early contender for most fish caught.

“Day one went great,” said Blaze. “Someone went crazy and caught 22 fish!”

He planned the event as part of Project Learning Tree Canada’s (PLT Canada) Green Leaders program. Blaze also partnered with the Opaskwayak Health Authority’s Mino-Pimatisewin Program, OCN CFS Family Enhancement, Jr O&O, OCN Recreation and OCN Youth Centers to put on the COVID-safe event.

“My project’s goal is to teach the young or other older community members how to fish,” said Blaze. “I hope to better engage the community with the rich land resources around here.”

The high school student also participated in the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) this past summer, where he got hands-on forestry experience with tasks like tree planting and brush cutting. OYEP is a PLT Canada Green Jobs employer—PLT Canada offers a 50 per cent wage match to hire youth aged 15–30 in the forest, conservation or parks sectors.

“I applied for my Green Job because I really like the outdoors and doing good deeds for the environment,” said Blaze. “My favourite part was meeting lifetime friends and all the knowledge and experience I gained.”

About PLT Canada’s Green Leaders Program

PLT Canada believes in a society that values and benefits from sustainably managed forests and the great outdoors. In January, the organization launched the Green Leaders Program, which involves mentorship, skill development, and community action. The green leaders, aged 18-25, plan and implement a community-based project which could be an event, campaign or another initiative of their choice! Participants receive up to $1,500 from PLT Canada to deliver their project along with training and development workshops to help support their success. During the four-month program, the green leaders are also matched with mentors from the forest and conservation sector to help them complete their project and plan their green career pathway.