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Understanding Sustainable Forestry and Reconciliation through a First Nation’s Lens

Recently, Percy Guichon, executive director of Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation Ltd. (CCR) and Councillor of Tŝideldel First Nation, gave an insightful presentation to third-year forestry students at the University of British Columbia (UBC), providing invaluable perspectives on forestry and reconciliation from a First Nation's viewpoint. Almost 90 students, alongside Professor Gary Bull, were able to learn about the remarkable success story of the Tŝideldel First Nation and its impact on land management, community development, and partnerships across British Columbia.

Professor Bull emphasized the significance of such opportunities, and stated, “It made such an impact to have Percy in the classroom with the students, and it was the best lecture of the year in my class. It is essential that university students are exposed to the lives, challenges, and opportunities of the First Nations in B.C. So often, in an urban environment, students are only exposed to an urban viewpoint and not the views of those who live on and steward the land.”

One student, Haleigh Parker, who is Ulkatcho’ten from the Ulkatcho First Nation—a community neighbouring the Tŝideldel First Nation—reflected on the presentation, and shared a personal testimony that truly highlighted the transformative potential of such educational experiences for forestry students:

“Prior to this class, I didn’t know much about the community besides the fact that they are my neighbours and that their gas station has good road trip snacks. Growing up on a reserve, road trips back out to Anahim Lake and the West Chilcotin were often filled with me looking out the window at the landscape, seeing all the dead lodgepole pine and wondering what was going to happen to our communities. This presentation showed me what is possible for remote, rural communities that may have limited resources in the eyes of Western science and economics. Before this presentation, I had no clue that Tŝideldel Enterprises existed and what it has been able to do for the community and Nation so being able to learn about an Indigenous community, their culture and how they’re succeeding gives me hope that my community might be able to do something similar in the future.”

Guichon’s presentation showcased the tangible success and long-term commitment of the Tŝideldel First Nation to cultural preservation, community well-being, and economic prosperity through partnerships and joint ventures, such as CCR, which is a joint venture between Tŝideldel First Nation and Tl’etinqox Government.

“The Tŝideldel First Nation is a prime example in the province of prosperity within the Nation’s enterprises. This example has led to real and meaningful changes that extend beyond economic prosperity as the community now boasts a state-of-the-art health facility, a school of its own, a gas bar providing essential services, and lodges catering to the tourism sector,” shared Quinn Kenny, a forestry student at UBC, reflecting on the lessons learned.

In addition, Guichon’s presentation showcased Tŝideldel First Nation’s forestry businesses, such as CCR, Tsi Del Del Enterprises Ltd., and Tsi Del Del Development Corporation, highlighting their focus on sustainable development, good stewardship, and the importance of aligning business activities with Indigenous values.

In response, students articulated major takeaways they will implement in their education and work as they progress in their careers.

“Based on the learnings from this presentation specific to forestry, I will focus more on what harvesting methods are considered for sustainable harvesting or the sustainable use of forest lands. Since Canada is a leading country in sustainable timber harvesting and the sustainable management of forest lands, I would like to participate in such a field,” remarked Austin Lee, forestry student at UBC.

“Looking ahead, the Tŝideldel First Nation’s trajectory continues to capture the interest of onlookers such as myself and colleagues at the University of British Columbia. As the Nation paves the way for future generations, politicians, entrepreneurs, and residents from across the province, we should all be keen to see the potential and ongoing success story of Tŝideldel and the continued benefits their work will bring to its people for generations. I hope to strive for goals like what Tŝideldel has achieved in my professional career,” added Kenny.

As the presentation concluded, Bull’s forestry class eagerly discussed future opportunities for collaboration, including field trips to the Tŝideldel First Nation’s forest sites and ongoing projects aimed at fostering mutual learning and understanding.

“In the future, I would like to see groups of students working with the community to help bridge the gap between Western science and traditional ecological knowledge of First Nations, working with adjacent Nations in their areas as well,” remarked Professor Bull. “We hope to continue working with Tŝideldel First Nation on projects and are looking forward to a one-day retreat in April.”

For more information and updates, follow Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation their social media channels.

Understanding Sustainable Forestry and Reconciliation through a First Nations Lens-April 1
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