With B.C. facing an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, a number that has climbed steadily since the beginning of the pandemic, a number of organizations and businesses are actively working to recruit and employ a new workforce. The BC First Nations Forestry Council (BCFNFC) recently hosted a series of career fairs, including a stop at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology’s (NVIT) Merritt campus. 

The BCFNFC is an advocacy organization that looks to increase First Nations participation in the forestry sector, and supports them in their efforts to increase First Nation’s role in the governance and stewardship of forest, lands, and natural resources. The organization is run by local Indigenous forester and CEO, Lennard Joe. One of their recent initiatives is a run of career fairs, including a first stop in Nanaimo, and a fair at NVIT on October 27. Students and community members came in full force to support the event, engage employers, and learn more about the forestry industry.

“It went great, we were so happy with the turnout, and NVIT was a wonderful host,” said Christiana Jones, communications manager with the BCFNFC.

“We had a bunch of fantastic exhibitors there from across the forestry sector, and it went really well. We’re so glad to see so many students, younger people, and older people alike coming out and participating here in Merritt.” 

Marius Auer/Herald

Attendees of the fair had access to a number of employment resources, educational programming and speakers, as well as a number of booths set up by prospective employers and organizations in the forestry industry. The BCFNFC will host an online career fair in the coming week, where they hope to showcase an exciting new online tool. Along with their events and resources, the BCFNFC continues to engage provincial and federal government on forestry issues. 

“We collaborate with the provincial government, for example, we have some upcoming provincial engagements where we’re helping to facilitate engagement between First Nations and the province regarding forest sector policies, and things of the like,” added Jones.

 “We have an online event, sort of like an online career fair, happening on November 8. We’ll be using some videos that we took at the career fair at NVIT, as well as going over our new virtual platform, Forestry Connect. It’s an online platform that sort of serves as a central hub for all things forest sector in the province. Students, especially Indigenous students, are encouraged to sign up for Forestry Connect.”

Jones said her highlight was seeing the interaction between Indigenous youth and employers, which was positive and full of engaging conversation. She added that she hopes to continue seeing Indigenous youth be engaged in this way.

For more information on the BC First Nations Forestry Council, including future programming, visit www.forestrycouncil.ca.