Scholarship funding makes goals attainable
By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Opportunities are growing for Indigenous people looking to branch out into the career of forestry. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy has announced provincial funding of $437,000 to support the First Nations Forestry Council (FNFC) in developing a new online forestry career matching tool. The announcement was made at the recent FNFC annual conference, which was held virtually and livestreamed from the University of British Columbia. The funding is part of the implementation of the BC First Nations Workforce Strategy, branded as Forestry Connect. It will include educational videos showcasing the history, current status and future of First Nations forestry in BC, as well as quizzes and digital games that are interactively designed to educate Indigenous people about forest-sector careers that can be accessed through a smartphone app.
“The Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program and Forestry Connect will support students and community members in getting the education, experience and opportunities they need to pursue rewarding careers in forestry,” Conroy said in a release.
The app will help students and community members in finding jobs and education and training opportunities within the sector. March 2023 is its expected launch date, the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council as the first host community. In addition, the province will be providing funding to the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program (IFSP), which since 2018 has received more than $2.9 million. The IFSP is open to all Indigenous students attending full-time studies in the following areas: forestry technician, natural resources, environmental technology, business management or administration, geographic information systems, construction millwrights, industrial mechanics, logging machine and skidder operator and heavy-duty mechanics. Twenty-five students will breathe a little easier as the IFSP, now in its 11th year, aims to make life more affordable so students can focus on their studies rather than the cost of living. A total of $612,000 will be provided in tuition and living scholarships for full-time studies in the above areas that are offered at designated post-secondary institutions, as well as paid summer work-term experience.
“Our government is making a generational commitment to be future-ready,” Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon said in a release. “Through these initiatives, we are making sure people have the skills they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow, while creating more opportunities for Indigenous people to be involved in the forest sector and helping to advance lasting and meaningful reconciliation through economic development.”
Chandell Dillman is a student working towards her degree in Williams Lake in the BC Timber Sales’ Cariboo-Chilcotin Business Area. Dillman said the IFSP program gave her the chance to achieve something she never thought possible. As she works towards completing this program, Dillman said she is excited about the opportunities in the field that lie ahead. “The support and help provided by the staff inspired me to follow through with my goals of completing my diploma and pursuing my degree,” Dillman said in a release. “The financial assistance broke down the barrier of the high cost of education and relieved a lot of the stress associated with finances.”
IFSP supported 30 students with their studies and living costs last year and many work-term placements were activated last summer throughout BC, with approximately $400,000 that went towards investment and employment opportunities.
“British Columbia is home to incredible Indigenous students who are shaping a brighter future for our province,” Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training said in a release. “This financial support will help them focus on their studies to continue building the lives they want so they can find further success in British Columbia.”
To learn more about the Indigenous Forestry Scholarship Program, visit: https://www.forestrycouncil.ca/cpages/ifsp