Two representatives of the University of British Columbia, including the Dean of Forestry, will be coming to the islands near the end of this month to generate interest in their forestry program among the Haida.
“We want to see (First Nations) people trained as Registered Professional Foresters,” said Gordon Prest, the First Nations coordinator in the faculty of forestry. “We want to see First Nations being more equal players in the forestry sector.”
Prof. Prest said current regulations require a Forestry degree for management positions, and because of this, communities usually have to hire an outside consultant for forestry issues. But the way things are going (with the TFL case, for example) there will be a huge demand for aboriginal people with the training to “prescribe treatments for the forest themselves, from pre-harvest to post-harvest.”
The initiative to promote the forestry program to First Nations people in BC started in 1994.
“In the 50 years prior to 1994, only three people of aboriginal descent graduated from the forestry program,” he said. “Since 1994, there have been 22, but to date there have been no Haida.” Hence the visit to the islands, where Prof. Prest says they will be working on “building a stronger relationship,” by “talking to key people among the Haida.”
Dean Dr. Jack Saddler will also arrive around July 20. Both are planning to meet with both the Skidegate and Old Massett band councils.
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