I want to emphasise the teachings that our parents have taught us. This is a continuing knowledge passed down from one generation to the next. We are elders now and continue to teach. This is what ‘keeping the land’ is all about. This is why we want to build the teaching centre ― to continue to teach our youth at that centre. Elder Lucy Strang (in translation)
The primary goal of the Whitefeather Forest Initiative is to provide a range of enterprise and employment opportunities for the members of Pikangikum within the framework of our way of Keeping the Land.
Whitefeather Forest Management Corporation has provided on the job training opportunities to its staff since its inception in the areas of GIS and related mapping skills, community research, fieldwork, and office administration.
In 2005 Pikangikum developed a comprehensive training strategy to prepare our youth to meet the opportunities that will result from the Whitefeather Forest Initiative. In 2007/08 Pikangikum received approval from Human Resources and Social Development Canada under the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program to support the Whitefeather Forest Training Program. In 2008 the Whitefeather Forest Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnerships Corporation (the Whitefeather Forest ASEP Corporation) was created to bring all of the training partners together to govern the training program. The program itself was launched in January 2009 and is being run by the Whitefeather Forest ASEP Corporation. To support the delivery of this program and future training, a three-classroom facility is currently being completed in Pikangikum.
In 2009 Pikangikum received support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for a project to incorporate the Indigenous Knowledge and customary stewardship tradition of Pikangikum people into the Forest Eco-System Management diploma program being delivered in the Whitefeather Forest Training Program. This project means that Elders’ and other bush experts’ teachings are now being incorporated into training our young people to be forest resource managers.
Efforts also continue to develop the Teaching Centre envisioned by Elder Lucy Strang as a way of responding to what is, even now, a pressing need for teaching and training infrastructure. This Centre will be a place where youth from Pikangikum and other First Nations communities can learn about keeping the land from the Elders who are the keepers of our knowledge tradition and from the western tradition of our partners.
To learn more about our teaching and training efforts, follow the links below.
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