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(Victoria, BC) – The BC First Nations Forestry Council (the ‘Forestry Council’) has received funding provided through the Canada–British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement to conduct labour market research to understand the role of mentorship in recruitment, retention and career advancement for a First Nations forestry workforce.
The research project will span over two years and seek to identify current and future workforce opportunities, barriers, and solutions to inform the development of a framework for a First Nations Forestry Mentorship program.
“Passing on knowledge to the next generation is an important cultural practice within Indigenous communities,” tells Chief Bill Williams, President of the Forestry Council. “Historically, many Nations have always had elements of mentorship embedded within their communities.”
The research project will examine employment practices within the BC forest sector to inform an inclusive and culturally-aware mentorship framework that, in part, models itself to First Nations’ practices.
“The concept of mentorship may have a wide range of meanings professionally, culturally, and socially,” tells Karen Sorensen, Workforce Development Manager at the Forestry Council. “That is why we look forward to collaborating with Nations, Industry, and the BC Government to define and better understand the role mentorship can play in increasing First Nations involvement in the forestry workforce.”
The project is part of the implementation of the BC First Nations Forestry Workforce Strategy (the ‘Workforce Strategy’), which was developed in 2018 through collaboration between First Nations, Industry, and the BC Government.
“Supporting a new generation of First Nation workers and forest professionals in the BC forest sector through education, employment opportunities, and mentorship is a key pillar in our Workforce Strategy,” says Dr. Charlene Higgins, CEO of the Forestry Council.
“We look forward to seeing this collaborative initiative bring about more opportunities for the increased involvement of First Nations on all levels of forestry,” she adds.
The Forestry Council is now inviting all individuals from Indigenous communities, industry, and educational groups to participate in the online survey and contribute their perspective on the meaning and role of mentorship.