The six-week program at Riverside College provides students with field training in tree and plant identification, forest ecology, forest health, stream classification, archeology and cultural plant identification. City of Mission photo.

The six-week program at Riverside College provides students with field training in tree and plant identification, forest ecology, forest health, stream classification, archeology and cultural plant identification. City of Mission photo.

Brand new Indigenous-led forestry training program commenced with ceremony at Mission’s Heritage Park

City partnered with local First Nations and school district to develop program over last 2 years

A brand new Indigenous-led forestry training program kicked off earlier this week with a ceremony at Fraser River Heritage Park.

The Indigenous Guardians Training Program has been developed over two years by the city working in partnership with Kwantlen First Nation, Leq’a:mel First Nation, Matsqui First Nation, and the Mission Public School District.

“The role of Guardians is an important one as they are connected to protecting and safe-guarding areas in our shared territories,” said Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel.

“Having knowledge and understanding of our sacred connections to the land and the precious resources within it, are a necessary part of this important role. We are honoured, excited, and eager to be involved as this program gets underway.”

The six-week program at Riverside College, with training provided by Stillwater Consulting, provides students with field training in tree and plant identification, forest ecology, forest health, stream classification, archeology and cultural plant identification.

“This means being good neighbours and putting the needs of our members first,” said Matsqui First Nation Chief Alice McKay. “This training could lean toward a very positive position in the forestry field and much more to come.”

Graduates of the program will work in the shared territories of the Kwantlen, Leq’a:mel, and Matsqui First Nations conducting environmental and fire patrols, cultural interpretation, archeology fieldwork, managing cultural trees and plants, and stream assessment and rehabilitation.

“Not only will it provide learning and employment opportunities for our members, it will build capacity for Leq’á:mel First Nation Guardians to improve monitoring within our Territory,” said Leq’á:mel First Nation Councillor Phil Sherwood.

The ceremonies were attended by Mayor Paul Horn and Director of Forestry Chris Gruenwald, who acknowledged the hard work and collaboration it took to get the program started.

The program received funding from the Union of BC Municipalities’ Community Resiliency Initiative.

RELATED: Historic agreement signed in Mission transfers 60 hectares of Crown land back to First Nations


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City of Mission photo

City of Mission photo