New grants increase opportunities for Indigenous people in forest sector…

VICTORIA, BC: Indigenous people looking to work in B.C.’s forest sector will have more opportunities to learn, train and develop in-demand skills through two new provincial grants.

Supported by the StrongerBC Economic Plan, the Province is providing funding to the First Nations Forestry Council (FNFC) for the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program (IFSP) and an online forestry careers-matching tool to help increase the number of Indigenous students and community members studying and working in the forest sector.

Provincial funding of $437,000 will support the FNFC in developing a new online forestry careers matching tool, part of the implementation of the B.C. First Nations Workforce Strategy, branded as Forestry Connect. The online tool helps students and community members find jobs, education and training opportunities within the sector. The tool is expected to launch by March 2023, with the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council as the first host community.

“Our government is working in partnership with the First Nations Forestry Council to increase opportunities for Indigenous people in the forestry sector and ensure communities benefit from sustainable, innovative jobs for generations to come,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “The Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program and Forestry Connect will support students and community members in getting the education, experience and opportunities they need to pursue rewarding careers in forestry.”

The announcement was made by Minister Conroy while delivering the keynote address at the FNFC Annual Conference on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The event was held virtually and livestreamed from the University of British Columbia campus.

The IFSP will help make life more affordable for 25 students by providing $612,000 in tuition and living scholarships for full-time studies in designated post-secondary institutions, as well as paid summer work-term experience.

“Our government is making a generational commitment to be future-ready,“ said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Through these initiatives, we are making sure people have the skills they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow, while creating more opportunities for Indigenous people to be involved in the forest sector and helping to advance lasting and meaningful reconciliation through economic development.”

Chandell Dillman is a returning student in a degree program who is working in BC Timber Sales’ Cariboo-Chilcotin Business Area in Williams Lake. She said the IFSP program helped her achieve something she never thought she could.

“The support and help provided by the staff inspired me to follow through with my goals of completing my diploma and pursuing my degree,” Dillman said. “The financial assistance broke down the barrier of the high cost of education and relieved a lot of the stress associated with finances.”

Dillman will now have credentials that can help her find a job in a field she is excited about.

“British Columbia is home to incredible Indigenous students who are shaping a brighter future for our province,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This financial support will help them focus on their studies to continue building the lives they want so they can find further success in British Columbia.”

The Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program is in its 11th year, and the Ministry of Forests, along with BCTS support, continue to be the pillar of B.C.’s First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy. 

“This aims to increase the participation and success that our Indigenous youth play in the forestry sector,” said Chief Bill Williams, president, First Nations Forestry Council. “The program supported 30 students last year and activated summer work-term placements throughout B.C., with approximately $400,000 in leveraged employment opportunities and investment.”

These grants are part of the B.C. government’s commitment to build resilient communities and advance true, lasting and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, as outlined in the StrongerBC Economic Plan. 

Written and released by BC Government

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