Forest organizations sign agreement to grow opportunities for Indigenous youth

July 15, 2019

Paul Robitaille, SFI’s Manager of Indigenous and Youth Relations, welcomes OYEP and PLT Canada participants to an event in celebration of a memorandum of understanding between the three organizations.

Since its founding in 2000, the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) has empowered over 500 Indigenous youth, which has led to increased high school graduation rates, meaningful long-term employment, and a greater sense of pride. Project Learning Tree Canada, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and Outland, a division of Dexterra, have come together to empower even more Indigenous youth in the years ahead.

Since 2018, with funding from PLT Canada’s Green Jobs Program and support from 16 companies and organizations certified to the SFI Standard across Canada, OYEP has expanded from two Ontario-based camps to six unique programs across four provinces, employing over 140 Indigenous youth annually. At OYEP camps, Indigenous youth acquire important skills, such as first aid, wildfire training, chain saw operation, and a variety of industry certifications, not to mention soft skills like resume building and time management. They start off as rangers but grow into supervisors and crew leads, sometimes returning to the program multiple years in a row.

On July 12, the three organizations came together to grow opportunities for Indigenous youth through a memorandum of understanding. The organizations will also work with each other, OYEP participants and organizations certified to SFI across the country to develop an evolving suite of programs and services, including career resources, mentorship opportunities and peer-to-peer support networks, to ensure that all Indigenous youth are meaningfully supported in their pursuit of education and careers in the forestry sector and beyond.

This video features Sage Moses, an OYEP Crew Leader, describing the program and the difference it has made in her life and the life of her brother.

“OYEP has been transforming the lives of Indigenous high school aged youth for two decades. It is only fitting that OYEP and Outland enter an MOU with SFI and PLT Canada. With SFI and PLT Canada support, OYEP will be able to reach even more Indigenous youth across Canada. The need is there. It is time for Canada to take greater steps to answering that need,” says Dave Bradley, founder of OYEP and Indigenous Business Manager for Outland.

Outland, SFI and PLT Canada would like to thank OYEP’s many committed supporters including these organizations and companies, which are all certified to SFI standards: BC Timber Sales, Canfor, Carrier Lumber, Domtar, Dunkley Lumber, EACOM, Georgia-Pacific, Mercer Peace River Pulp, Millar Western, Paper Excellence, Resolute Forest Products, Sinclar Group, Spray Lake Sawmills, Vanderwell Contractors, West Fraser, and Weyerhaeuser.