The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has awarded the third annual Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth to Shownoo Blackbird-Williams from Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario.
The $2,500 award is targeted at youth from 18 to 30 who are enrolled in an apprenticeship program, college or 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.
“Shownoo has a strong desire to better himself and his family and he hopes to use his Aboriginal community values to help develop the forest products industry,” says David Lindsay, President and CEO of FPAC. “The forest sector benefits greatly from the hard work, enthusiasm and dedication of Shownoo and other committed Aboriginal youth.”
Blackbird-Williams left the Canadian Military when he heard that he was expecting a son. To be a good role model and further his education, he enrolled in the First Nations Forestry Technician Program at the Anishinabek Education Institute at Muncey Campus, associated with Fleming College. Blackbird-Williams intends to pursue a career in forestry while also running an eco-tourism business. He has also been an active participant in the Walpole Island Forest Regeneration Project where he gained experience in the Arboricultural field.
“I feel truly honoured to receive this award so that I can continue my studies,” says Blackbird-Williams. “As an Aboriginal, I recognize the future potential of the forest sector and I want to be part of this revitalized industry. Working in the forest sector is the right decision for my family.”
The forest products industry is already one of the largest employers of Aboriginals and under Vision2020, is committed to recruiting more entrepreneurs and skilled workers in rural forestry communities including Aboriginal youth.
The Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth builds on the FPAC Aboriginal Business Leadership Award which recognizes and celebrates Aboriginal entrepreneurs for success in a forest products business.
FPAC is the voice of Canada’s forest producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs. Canada’s forest products industry is a $58-billion dollar a year industry that represents 11% of Canada’s manufacturing GDP. The industry is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in hundreds of Canadian communities and providing more than 230,000 direct jobs across the country.