Investing in Indigenous youth and forests

Canada’s Forest Trust (CFT) and Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP), part of Dexterra Community Initiatives (DCI), have drawn up a partnership in order to build powerful relationships with Indigenous communities and youth in Canada.

Gary Zed, founder and CEO of Canada’s Forest Trust. | Photo courtesy of Gary Zed

Through this partnership, CFT and OYEP will collaborate on their shared goals of supporting Indigenous youth through engagement, leadership opportunities and career pathways and advancing sustainable forestry, climate action and ecosystem restoration.

CFT is a leading Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) company offering a nature-based solution to getting to net-zero – Smart Forests™. A core CFT initiative is its School Smart Forest program that engages schools and students in fundraising and programming to positively impact the climate. OYEP – a network of land-based education, training and work opportunities for Indigenous youth – will guide CFT in building Indigenous-led and informed programming while building connections between CFT’s Student Ambassadors and OYEP youth.

Core to Canada’s economic growth is the expansion of the Indigenous economy. CFT and OYEP are mutually committed to providing meaningful experiences for Indigenous communities to access more skills-development and career opportunities in the forestry sector and green economy.

“OYEP has been offering support and opportunities to Indigenous communities across Canada for over 20 years and is foundational to DCI’s commitment to building strong communities where we work and live. Our partnership with CFT aids us in continuing OYEP’s legacy through mutual respect and collaboration,” says Alex Luengo, Division Vice President, Workforce Accommodations and Forestry at Dexterra Group.

CFT is eager to learn from the OYEP method that takes an inclusive approach to Indigenous education and recruitment and is tailored to meet the needs of local communities and partners.

“CFT is devoted to connecting with and learning from Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and communities to guide our Smart Forest programs. We are committed to providing scholarship, leadership, professional development and career opportunities for OYEP youth and will continue to form meaningful partnerships as we grow,” says Gary Zed, founder and CEO of CFT.

As a driver of this partnership, Sarah Ambroziak, manager Workforce Development and Engagement at Outland states, “the Outland Youth Employment Program is built on trusting and mutually beneficial relationships and this one is no exception. We are looking forward to leveraging this partnership to continue supporting Indigenous youth and communities in the natural resources sector and beyond.”

About CFT and OYEP

Dexterra Community Initiatives’ Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) is a national network of education, training and work opportunities for Indigenous Youth that includes their flagship six-week land-based summer program and comprehensive wrap-around services. OYEP’s land-based programs run during July and August and wrap-around services are available year-round through the support of partners. OYEP takes an inclusive approach to Indigenous education, recruitment, retention and provides a safe and predictable learning environment that can be tailored to meet the needs of local communities and partners. OYEP collaborates with local Indigenous communities and consults with Elders to ensure youth feel culturally and spiritually supported in the workplace.

CFT is a leading ESG company that offers a nature-based solution to getting to net-zero by building Smart Forests™. With proprietary tools and in collaboration with Forest Stewards (businesses, schools, organizations, communities and individuals), CFT is on a path to procure, prepare, plant, preserve and protect millions of acres of forests around the world. CFT will sequester tens of millions of tonnes of carbon. Their Forever Forest Guarantee ensures that every forest built by CFT undergoes expert management, reporting and monitoring, and silviculture maintenance. Smart Forests sequester CO2, rehabilitate ecosystems, learn from Indigenous land knowledge keepers and boost the green economy. Smart Forests are smart investments.

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