By: The Working Forest Staff
OTTAWA — Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Edward Wawia and M’Chigeeng youth Hunter Corbiere were recently recognized with Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) 2020 Awards of Excellence. Wawia was one of four FPAC Forest Community Champion Award recipients and Corbiere was one of three FPAC Skills Award for Indigenous Youth recipients highlighted during the Sept. 21 awards announcement.
CAPTION: M’Chigeeng’s Hunter Corbiere was recognized as one of three Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) Skills Award for Indigenous Youth recipients at the FPAC 2020 Awards of Excellence announcement on Sept. 21. – Photo supplied
“I’m so honoured — it’s awesome,” says Corbiere, a 20-year-old Fleming College Forest Technician program graduate. “It’s such a stepping stone. The Forest Products Association of Canada has been so amazing to do such awesome things for Indigenous youth and involving Indigenous communities in forestry.”
Corbiere was recognized for her efforts in helping to shape the Forest Technician program at Fleming College and for her role as an Indigenous speaker at the Kawartha Woodlot Conference held by the Forestry class in February.
“I actually helped the Forestry program have an Indigenous perspective designation,” says Corbiere. “I was one of the two students that was helping to do that so in a lot of our presentations you would learn a little bit on the territory we would be on, a little bit of the background of the traditional land we would be on while we were going out and doing field trips.”
Corbiere says it is important for students to have an understanding of Indigenous values and Indigenous perspectives.
M’Chigeeng’s Hunter Corbiere was recognized as one of three Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) Skills Award for Indigenous Youth recipients at the FPAC 2020 Awards of Excellence announcement on Sept. 21. – Photo supplied
“It’s super important to understand that there are cultural values to these lands,” Corbiere says. “A lot of people don’t know and it is okay to get educated on it, especially within the environmental sector. So it is super important to have that within those programs.”
Corbiere says she did a land acknowledgment during her speech at the Kawartha Woodlot Conference.
“[I] acknowledged that the wood lots that everyone has, those were once my ancestor’s lands,” Corbiere says. “So understanding that there are values within that land and understanding that we’re the land guardians for the next generation, so I just acknowledged those few points.”
Corbiere plans to pursue an undergrad in Forestry at Lakehead University in 2021 after holding off for the first semester due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I want to base my specialization in forest management,” Corbiere says. “I want to also become a forestry liaison, a registered professional forester. So that’s my next adventure.”
Corbiere says she grew up on the land in Waubaushene, a small community located on Georgian Bay.
“Growing up we used to go up north hunting and fishing,” Corbiere says. “Those are my fondest memories.”
Corbiere says her father’s role with Parks Canada, where he provided Indigenous-based hikes and shared information on medicinal plants, shaped who she was as she grew up.
“When I was in high school and I was going to college, I knew I wanted to be somewhere outdoors, being as involved as him but on a different level because he was educating the public and I want to educate within the sector,” Corbiere says.
Corbiere says her long-term goal is to teach and share her Indigenous knowledge with future foresters in a postsecondary environment.
The other two FPAC Skills Award for Indigenous Youth recipients were Autumn Quenville, a Whitesand citizen from Thunder Bay; and Raven Cardinal, a Bigstone Cree Nation citizen from Edmonton.
The other three FPAC Forest Community Champion Award recipients were Lisa Raitt, former Milton MP and cabinet minister; William Amos, Pontiac MP and parliamentary secretary to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry; and Williams Lake B.C. Mayor Walt Cobb.
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