The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is greatly encouraged by recent announcements made by both the federal government and the Assembly of First Nations to strengthen and enhance the education of Aboriginal youth in Canada.

In a statement last week Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs,  underscored the urgent need for the government to work with willing partners on educational reform in order to “close the intolerable gap in high school graduation rates” among Aboriginal students.  And today the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) released a discussion paper sets out an ambitious agenda to strengthen First Nations post-secondary education.

FPAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the AFN in 2008 that emphasized education and skills development for First Nations youth as key to securing the economic health and prosperity of rural communities and the forest products sector in Canada – two entities that are inextricably bound together.

“Enhancing the education of Aboriginal youth is a priority.  As many forestry workers retire in the coming decade the forest products sector will need talented, well-educated Aboriginal people to help fill highly-technical, well-paying jobs in rural forestry communities.  We applaud the commitment of the AFN and the federal government to making progress in this area,” says Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of FPAC.

The forest products industry is the largest industrial employer of Aboriginal peoples in Canada (17,000 employees) and depends on 1400 Aboriginal businesses for its day to day operations.  Employment in the forestry sector increasingly demands a high level of skill and training with a minimum requirement of high-school, and more commonly,  post-secondary education.

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $54-billion-a-year forest products industry represents almost 2% of Canada’s GDP and is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in hundreds of communities and providing hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs across the country.

FPAC’s member companies adhere to five principles of sustainability:
•    Harvest legally
•    Regenerate promptly
•    Reduce waste, support recovery and recycling
•    Reduce greenhouse gases and help fight climate change
•    Welcome independent scrutiny of forest management practices

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Fiona McDonald
Communications Coordinator
Forest Products Association of Canada
fmcdonald@fpac.ca 613-563-1441 x318
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