A special ceremony to mark the start of a brand new forestry training program that had been in the works for two years was held at Fraser River Heritage Park earlier this week.
The Indigenous Guardians Training Program is a six-week course developed by the City in close partnership with Kwantlen First Nation, Leq’a:mel First Nation, Matsqui First Nation and the Mission Public School District.
Program participants will learn forestry field training in tree and plant identification, forest ecology, forest health, stream classification, as well as specific custodian training in archeology and identification of cultural plants. The course is held at Riverside College, with training provided by Stillwater Consulting Ltd.
Graduates of the program will work on land within the shared territories of the Kwantlen, Leq’a:mel and Matsqui First Nations. Some of the Guardians’ roles include environmental and fire patrol, cultural interpretation, archaeological fieldwork, cultural tree and plant management, and watercourse assessment and rehabilitation.
“We appreciate our growing relationship with the Town of Mission and look forward to the ways we can participate in this important initiative and lend our support and guidance where we can,” said Kwantlen First Nation Chief, Marilyn Gabriel. “The role of the Guardians is important because they are linked to the protection and safeguarding of areas of our shared territories. Knowing and understanding our sacred connection to the earth and the precious resources it contains is a necessary part of this important role. We are honoured, excited and eager to participate in the launch of this program. »
“The Leq’á:mel First Nation is pleased to partner, support and participate in the Mission Town Warden Training Program,” said Leq’á:mel First Nation Councilor Phil Sherwood. “Not only will this provide learning and employment opportunities for our members, but it will build the capacity of Leq’á:mel First Nation Guardians to improve surveillance in our territory. This training program represents an important step in relationship building and reconciliation between the Leq’á:mel First Nation and the town of Mission.
“Collaborating and working together is a good step towards building a positive relationship for Matsqui First Nation and the Town of Mission,” said Matsqui First Nation Chief Alice McKay. “It means being good neighbors and putting the needs of our members first. This training could lean towards a very positive position in the forestry field and much more to come. Matsqui First Nation appreciates these relationships.
“It is gratifying to see this partnership come to fruition,” said Town of Mission Mayor Paul Horn. “It will benefit our environment, help us all share valuable and traditional teachings, and create new career opportunities for people in shared territories.”
“The launch of this program represents the culmination of two years of collaborative efforts between the Town and the Kwantlen, Leq’a:mel and Matsqui Nations,” said Chris Gruenwald, Director of Forestry at the Town of Mission. “I would like to acknowledge the hard work of Nations, City staff and Stillwater Consulting in bringing this program to fruition. We also greatly appreciate the support of our City Council, Mission Public Schools Board, and Riverside College to help implement this program. We look forward to continuing the development of this program in the future.
Funding for this initiative was provided by the Union of BC Municipalities through its Community Resiliency Initiative program.
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