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What’s old is new again: Green leader engages community by upcycling fabric into blankets

June 18, 2021

A blanket with a turtle design

Skylar Veuillot noticed that the natural spaces around her community were slowly being covered with garbage. Discarded fabric near the dump caught her eye.

The member of the Northlands Denesuline First Nation knew that the people in her community were creative and had seen a lot of creative projects being done during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, Veuillot decided to organize an online blanket crafting event that would upcycle old fabric and engage her community as part of Project Learning Tree Canada’s (PLT Canada) Green Leaders Program.

“My goal was to bring warmth and to bring people together during this pandemic, especially those who are having a hard time because of it,” she said. “And people might gain a positive hobby out of it if they take a liking to sewing.”

PLT Canada’s Green Leaders Program involved mentorship, skill development, and community action. The green leaders, Indigenous youth aged 15-25, planned and implemented a green community-based project which could be an event, campaign, or another initiative of their choice. Participants received up to $1,500 from PLT Canada to deliver their project along with training and development workshops to help support their success. The green leaders were also matched with mentors from the forest and conservation sector to help them complete their project and plan their green career pathway.

“I have a great mentor,” said Veuillot. “She has been giving me helpful advice about my career path.”

PLT Canada’s Green Mentor program is currently recruiting mentees and mentors for the next national mentorship cohort (September 2021). Mentorship can help remove barriers to employment by growing young people’s networks. Apply today!

In addition to PLT Canada’s support, Veuillot partnered with the Awasis Agency of Northern Manitoba to help host her project. They were able to help her successfully complete her event, as she was living outside of her community to pursue her Bachelor of Arts.

“It was exciting to see what people would create. All of the blankets were creative and unique to them,” she said.

Through PLT Canada’s Green Leaders program, Veuillot said she improved transferrable professional- and life-skills like budgeting and communication.

“It also reminded me of how I can get things done with the right dedication and the right goal put in place,” she said.

In the past, Veuillot attended the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP), a national network of land-based education, training, and work opportunities for Indigenous youth.

OYEP is a PLT Canada Green Jobs employer—PLT Canada offers a 50% wage match to employers who hire youth aged 15–30 in the forest, conservation, or parks sectors. First Nations, First Nations businesses, and community-serving non-profits are also eligible for funding!

She spent most of her time with OYEP planting trees, doing bush work, and identifying traditional medicines.

While Veuillot is unsure about what exactly her dream job is, she is considering a career in the trades after her positive experience working in a Green Job.

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