As National Forest Week is celebrated across the country, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is seizing the opportunity to announce the recipients of its annual Awards of Excellence program. Today, FPAC and the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) are recognizing three accomplished individuals with the 2022 Skills Awards for Indigenous Youth.
Through the Skills Awards for Indigenous Youth, FPAC and CCFM are proud to jointly recognize Indigenous young people for their skills development and career aspirations in the forest products industry. These awards are given to individuals that exemplify the qualities of strong academic standing, commitment to the forest products industry, and a demonstrated commitment to Indigenous communities.
Neepin Cook is an 18-year-old Indigenous woman from Misipawistik Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba (Grand Rapids) and a proud Misipawistik band member who has lived in her community ever since she was born to her wonderfully supportive parents. Neepin enjoys living on her traditional lands as it is the place she feels most connected to her culture and family. She recently graduated with honors, as the valedictorian and received the Governor General Award from the Grand Rapids High School for her outstanding achievements. Neepin will be starting the Environmental Science Program focusing on Forestry Policy Management in September at the University of Winnipeg. She hopes to complete a masters in Hydrology afterwards. Neepin is an advocate for sustainable wildlife management, clean drinking water and climate change activism. She hopes to use her experience living in the north to advance her education and make meaningful change to support First Nations to become active leaders in the forest sector.
“Winning this award has not only given me confidence and motivated me to move towards my goals, but has set an example to youth around me that anything is possible. My feelings can be summed up by something an elder once said to me: This water is life, this land is life and if we don’t take care of it, there will be no us. There will be no future without a healthy environment.”
Sarah G. Dixon is a 21-year-old Secwepemc and Nisga’a woman of the Esketemc First Nation within the Secwepemc Nation in Northern British Columbia (Alkali Lake). Sarah’s roots are deeply connected to her traditional lands, community, and culture in which she loves sharing with others and passing down to future generations. Sarah is an advocate for Indigenous treaty rights and creating policy change, in which she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies with a double minor in History and Political Science at the University of Northern British Columbia. Sarah was first introduced to the natural resource industry through her involvement with Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) – participating in the program as a ranger in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, Sarah returned to OYEP as a Crew Leader in Training, acting as a mentor to Indigenous youth and has been a key speaker at various conferences including the BC Natural Resources Forum and The Forward Summit. Sarah hopes to take her experience working in natural resources, and her background in education, to one day share her experience and knowledge to future generations and create meaningful change.
“When I was first introduced to the forestry industry when I was 17 years old, I never imagined myself wanting to pursue a career within the natural resource industry. After a few short years working in the industry, I now know it is something that I am meant to do. I am completely honoured to have been chosen as a winner of the FPAC-CCFM Skills Awards for Indigenous Youth. Winning this award is a huge accomplishment for me and makes me realize all the work I’ve put into my education, career, and community is beginning to pay off. I know the work I’m doing alongside many other Indigenous allies is good and positive work for our communities and peoples.”
Jordan Germain is a proud member of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. Jordan grew up in Mastheuiatsh where the forest was always close to his home. Before deciding that he wanted to work in the forest industry, Jordan tried mechanical engineering, but always felt trapped indoors. His grandfather then inspired Jordan with his stories about working in the forest and even living in it as a child, which led Jordan to enter the Forest technology program at Cegep de Chicoutimi. He started working at the Resolute Forest Products mill in St. Felicien which provided the opportunity to participate in three internships with the company. After graduating from the program, he sought a bachelor’s degree in Forest Management and Environment at Laval University. Only two years remain before Jordan can officially say that he is a forest engineer, and his passion for this industry is only burning brighter.
“It is an honour just to be nominated for this award, but to win it only shows that with hard work comes great success. I hope to inspire Indigenous youth to take that same path which brings us closer to our roots.”
To learn more about FPAC’s Awards of Excellence recipients, please visit: https://www.fpac.ca/
About the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM)
Established in 1985, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) provides an important forum for federal, provincial and territorial governments to come together to discuss and exchange information, provide leadership and promote action on common forest and forestry-related issues of Canadian public and international concern. The CCFM helps advance sustainable forest management nationally and internationally. Together, we share information on issues impacting on the forest sector, maintain scientific information to support forest management decision-making, and provide a framework within which agreements can be signed and implemented on specific areas of interest.
About Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC)
FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. As an Industry with annual revenues exceeding $75B, Canada’s forest products sector is one of the country’s largest employers operating in over 600 communities, providing 225,000 direct jobs, and over 600,000 indirect jobs across the country.