The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has awarded the first annual Skills Award for Indigenous Youth to Baillie Redfern, an M.Sc graduate student studying Genome Science and Technology at the University of British Columbia.
The $2,500 award is targeted at youth from 18 to 25 who are enrolled in an apprenticeship program, college or in university who are a First Nations, Métis or Inuit individual with strong academic standing, and who are committed to their field of study and a career in the revitalized forest sector. FPAC will also be supporting the Assembly of First Nations Youth Summit in Saskatchewan in November. This stems from FPAC’s commitment to hire more Indigenous workers under Vision2020.
“The Metis Nation BC takes pride in acknowledging Baillie Redfern, a Métis citizen, as well as this initiative by the forest products industry,” says Bruce Dumont, President of Métis Nation British Columbia. “It is encouraging to see our youth grow up to become strong leaders, visionaries, and solid role models to many other young aspiring Métis. On behalf of the MNBC Board of Directors and Staff, we congratulate Baillie on her achievement.”
Redfern, a member of the Painted Feather Woodland Metis Tribe in Ontario, is studying how to utilize bio-ingredients from wood fibre for use in creating bio-products such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. “There is a large scientific interest in the identification of the genes and enzymes for the production of forest natural products and this award has provided me with the opportunity to empower my own education, and drive my choice to study bio-products,” she says.
“Baillie’s research represents a stellar example of the exciting bio-potential of the forest products industry and the changing face of our sector,” says David Lindsay, President and CEO of FPAC. “We are proud of her accomplishments as a young, Indigenous woman who has chosen to apply her talents to study the promise of our sector.”
The Youth award builds on the joint FPAC-AFN Business Leadership Award which has been awarded three times. It recognizes and celebrates Indigenous entrepreneurs for success in a forest products business that exemplifies business leadership, exceptional environmental and safety performance and the delivery of high-quality products and services.
Vision2020 is aimed at creating more innovative products from wood, further improving the industry’s environmental reputation and hiring an additional 60,000 workers. This will include recruiting more entrepreneurs and skilled workers in rural forestry communities including Indigenous youth. About 17,000 Indigenous people now work in the forest products industry, the most of any sector.
FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada’s GDP and is one of Canada’s largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 230,000 direct jobs across the country.
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