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Forestry institute forging gender equity plan

Thunder Bay researcher to sit on steering committee

A new initiative by the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) will look at ways to recruit, retain and advance women in the forestry sector.

The institute announced on Nov. 30 it’s creating a national action plan to promote gender equity in the industry.

According to 2017 data from Statistics Canada, women make up 17 per cent of the natural resources workforce.

Dana Collins, the institute’s executive director, called the coming action plan a “needed cultural shift.”

“When we enable diversity and inclusion and foster the growth and professional development of unrepresented voices and perspectives, our sector can only strengthen,” Collins said in a news release.

“With the emergence of more female mentors, more young women will choose careers in the forest sector, engaging in the long-term health and productivity of Canada’s forests and increasing Canada’s economic competitiveness in the global market.”

A new steering committee, tasked with guiding the action plan, comprises 15 representatives from across the sector, including Dr. Peggy Smith, professor emerita in the faculty of natural resources management at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

Smith, a registered professional forester with the Ontario Professional Foresters Association, is of Cree ancestry from the James Bay Treaty #9 area.

Her research interests have focussed on the social impacts of natural resources management, especially Indigenous peoples' rights, community forestry, public participation, northern development, and forest certification.

The CIF initiative is being bolstered by $467,000 in federal funding from Status of Women Canada.