Earlier today Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), in partnership with the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM), recognized three recipients of the Skills Awards for Indigenous Youth.
Honourees include Autumn Quenville of the Whitesand First Nation from Northern Ontario, Raven Cardinal of the Bigstone Cree Nation from Northern Alberta, and Hunter Corbiere of the M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island.
FPAC presents its annual Awards of Excellence to recognize excellence in Canada’s forest products sector and to celebrate our industry’s stars and important community partners. The Skills Awards for Indigenous Youth is presented to individuals with a strong academic standing who demonstrate a commitment to sustainable forest management and today’s forest products sector and the opportunities that it provides for Indigenous communities.
“Canada’s forests and forestry operations are seeing a growing number of Indigenous youth who are excited by the opportunities they see in the forest products industry,” said FPAC President and CEO Derek Nighbor. “FPAC is committed to working with our members and community partners to create opportunities where young leaders like Autumn, Raven, and Hunter can develop their skills, share their energy and enthusiasm, and take our sector into the future,” Nighbor added.
Autumn Quenville is a member of the Whitesand First Nation, located three hours north of Thunder Bay. A graduate of the Welding Techniques program and Mechanical Engineering Technician program at Confederation College, Autumn was able to pursue dreams that she never thought possible. In the summer of 2019, she had the opportunity to work as a millwright at Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay, Ontario as part of a co-op prerequisite, an experience that helped open up her eyes to the possibilities when she completes her college program. Autumn is dedicated to becoming a red seal millwright and setting a good example for the young Indigenous women from her hometown and holds a special place for love and support provided by high school teachers and college professors who helped her pursue her dreams.
Raven Cardinal is a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation, a graduate of the Forest Technician program at Portage College and currently a forest technology student at NAIT. Raven grew up in the community of Calling Lake, Alberta where she was exposed to the seasonal side of the forest industry at a young age. She has seized opportunities to gain work experience in the forest industry as a wildland firefighter, chainsaw operator for Firesmart projects, pulp mill woodland summer student, and more. Raven spends much of her life outdoors recreationally and participating in many cultural events pertaining to her Woodland Cree heritage. These experiences have ignited her passion and goal of achieving a full-time career in the forest industry and work within her home community. After Raven has completed her diploma at NAIT, she hopes to continue her education and work towards a forestry degree at UBC and become a forestry engineer.
“My goal of becoming a steward of the forest has been inspired by my passion, education and work experience within the forest industry,” said Cardinal. “I feel incredibly honoured and thankful to receive this award in recognition of my hard work and commitment.”
Hunter Corbiere is an Anishinaabe from M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island. The 20-year-old forest technician graduate from Fleming College, grew up on Georgian Bay, in a small town called Waubaushene. Some of her fondest memories were associated with hunting, fishing, and learning about medicinal plants with her family and loved learning about the forests and how much they provide for us, even at a young age. During her time at Fleming College, Hunter helped shape the program to have an Indigenous Perspective Designation and was the Indigenous speaker at the Kawartha Woodlot Conference held by the Forestry class in February. She now intends to work towards an undergrad in Forestry at Lakehead University and hopes to become a Registered Professional Forester/Indigenous Forest Liaison, and hopes to one day teach and share her Indigenous knowledge to future foresters.
“Winning this award is very meaningful to me not only as a woman entering the forest industry but also as an Indigenous student,” said Corbiere. “My whole life, I have been told we have a relationship with the land and have a responsibility to help manage our forests, to provide wood products, but also for the role they play for hunting and as ceremonial lands. Our duty is to be land guardians for the next generation, and I’m so excited for the next step in my journey to help do so.”
For further details about FPAC’s Awards of Excellence recipients, including photos and videos, please visit: www.forestryforthefuture.ca
FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $73.6-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 12 per cent of Canada’s manufacturing GDP and is one of Canada’s largest employers operating in over 600 communities, providing 230,000 direct jobs, and over 600,000 indirect jobs across the country.
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