Steady steps towards reconciliation through the Indigenous Forestry Initiative

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Figure 1: The IFI worked with members of the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) in Yukon on a bioenergy initiative to reduce dependency on diesel fuel for heating and create jobs in the community.

The strength of NRCan’s Indigenous programming has always been a boots-on-the-ground regional presence.  This year, the Indigenous Forestry Initiative team has filled their boots even more with a new centralized and streamlined administrative process. In the past, each regional officer was responsible for developing contribution agreements for each of the projects in their region, and all the associated paperwork and administration. In the new model, a Program Secretariat responsible for all the paperwork and administration supports each project. This frees up Regional Liaison Officers’ time so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time visiting and supporting communities. And with the recent hiring of new Officers all across Canada, that means even more time engaging and collaborating with other agencies and Indigenous organizations and ultimately results in real credibility in communities.

“Visiting communities and experiencing the hospitality and the realities of life on-reserve has empowered me to influence the way we deliver programs to be more in tune with the realities of our clients.”
- Maureen Scott
GForestry Officer

One of NRCan’s ambitions is to grow the Canadian Forest Services into a policy leader and model contributor towards reconciliation by advancing decision-making and shared governance. In the past, Indigenous Forestry Initiative project decisions remained internal to NRCan. This year, an external expert review committee was established to ensure that external perspectives inform decision-making early on in the process. This committee meets twice a year to review project proposals and make recommendations and includes members ranging from Indigenous representatives, to technology, financial, and business experts.

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Figure 2: TTC members learned how to harvest feedstock for biomass boilers in order to create district heating systems.

Ultimately, the initiative aims to foster partnerships with Indigenous communities from a space of communication and respect. As the IFI team travels to develop and discuss projects with these communities, they are better able to learn and respect each other’s protocols and practices. Reconciliation remains a journey – one that will take time, open minds and open hearts. As IFI continues to support Indigenous communities in achieving greater economic self-determination and growth, we take one step closer in that direction.