PLT Canada highlights Indigenous voices in green careers in our forests and parks
June 19, 2020
In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on Sunday, June 21, PLT Canada has launched A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals, which features the stories of 12 Indigenous professionals across the country.
PLT Canada’s guide highlights Indigenous professionals from across Canada – role models who have found success in green careers in forests and parks that align with their traditional values and love for the environment.
“Indigenous Peoples are Canada’s original forest and conservation professionals. Today, they shape every facet of the sector, creating even more opportunity for their communities and for the next generation of young leaders in the process,” said Paul Robitaille, Senior Manager, Indigenous and Youth Relations, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). “Their work inspires us. By sharing their stories, we hope to inspire even more young Indigenous people to find a place for themselves in the forest.”
Lennard Joe grew up on a British Columbia ranch. He is a member of the Shackan Indian Band.
“I was in the bush all the time,” he said. “My love for nature grew from there.”
One day, Joe, a registered professional forester, noticed that none of the logging trucks going through the community belonged to them. From that realization, his community built Stuwix Resources Joint Venture, an SFI-certified company jointly owned by eight First Nations in British Columbia. Companies that are certified to SFI are committed to responsible forestry practices, respecting Indigenous rights, protecting water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and species at risk.
“Now, First Nations individuals, companies and communities are participating in and helping care for all that the forest has to offer,” he said. “First Nations are no longer just a stakeholder. Now we have opportunities to start influencing change at the larger level and creating an environment in which others can grow and succeed.”
In addition to being a general manager at the SFI-certified Stuwix Resources, Joe sits on PLT Canada’s and SFI’s Board of Directors as a representative of the Scw’exmx Tribal Council.
Michelle Botham also works in the forest sector. But she got her first green job at age 42. She’s been working full-time at hme Entreprises in Thunder Bay since her Silviculture Summer Student job in 2015.
“Sometimes life takes you down a path you never expected. Take the knowledge and experience you gain along the way with you into your future roles,” she said.
Be it supervising tree planting, collecting field data or managing summer students, every day as a forestry technician is different, she said.
Botham is a member of the Lac Seul First Nation. She said she sees a lot more involvement of First Nations in sustainable forestry and thinks it will only become more attractive.
“I think it’s important for First Nations people to get involved in forestry for our children and for our future,” she said. “In my compliance role, I help guarantee our traditional values are being considered in forest management. As First Nations, we can take a leadership role and help make a positive change.”
Hme Entreprises is a PLT Canada Green Jobs employer, and they work in partnership with Ondaadiziwin Forest Management, an SFI-certified organization, owned by the Lac Seul First Nation.
Since 2018, PLT Canada has placed over 300 Indigenous youth from over 80 different Nations in green jobs in the forest and parks sector and has helped contribute to the growth of the Outland Youth Employment Program which provides meaningful and rewarding experiences for Indigenous youth interested in building skills and a support network while preparing for a job in natural resources.
“One of our greatest priorities is supporting opportunities for Indigenous youth and their communities,” said Kathy Abusow, CEO and President of PLT Canada. “There are so many paths and so many amazing destinations to discover in the forest and conservation sector. I hope this guide inspires Indigenous youth to pursue a career that they love that is meaningful to them and their communities.”
A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals will soon also be available in French, Plains Cree and Anishinaabemowen. The 60-page booklet reads at a high school level and was designed for PLT Canada by Design de Plume, an Indigenous-owned agency in Sudbury specializing in Indigenous communications. The booklet was also designed with accessibility in mind, and adheres to recognized standards, such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
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