The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), in partnership with the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM), presented the Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth to Gregory Daniels and Christian Francis today in Ottawa.

The Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth is open to First Nations, Métis or Inuit individuals aged 18 to 30 who are enrolled in an apprenticeship program, college or university, with strong academic standing, and a demonstrated commitment to their field of study and a career in the revitalized forest sector.

Gregory Daniels is a member of the Canim Lake Band in British Columbia who studied Environmental Resource Technology at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and has worked for three years as a silviculture technician at West Fraser. Gregory is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Forest Ecology and Management at the University of Northern British Columbia with the goal of becoming a Registered Professional Forester.

Christian Francis is a member of the Mi’kmaq from Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia. Having previously earned a diploma in Plant Science from Dalhousie University, Christian is driven by an interest in forestry and land management. He is currently enrolled as a third year student at Dalhousie University, working towards a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Environmental Science.

“Congratulations to Gregory and Christian for showing such enthusiasm and commitment to the forest products sector,” says Derek Nighbor, CEO of FPAC. “Our industry is dedicated to recruiting more young Aboriginal people like them as we become more innovative, strengthen our environmentally credentials and work more closely with First Nations communities.”

“Christian and Gregory exemplify the future of Canada’s forest sector and the important role that our Indigenous peoples play in its development, and I offer my congratulations,” says Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr. “Our forest sector’s reach is global, but today’s awards remind us that it provides opportunities and careers for Canadians in communities across the country, including Indigenous communities.”

“I believe that more and more Aboriginal involvement in the natural resource industry will see Aboriginal communities grow stronger and see the industry thrive as well,” says Gregory Daniels. “I am just glad to do my small part for the Aboriginal community and the natural resource industry.”

“I am hopeful that my valuing of education and my developing experience with the forestry and land management industry will enable me to someday find and create opportunities for economic growth in my home community,” says Christian Francis. “Someday I hope to do my part in helping First Nations people as a whole.”

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.