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Indigenous students earn top awards in forestry

Forest Products Association of Canada acknowledges students from New Liskeard and North Bay.

Two students from Northern Ontario have earned prestigious national awards in forestry.

Isabelle Males, a member of Timiskaming First Nation who hails from New Liskeard, and Tristan Flood, a member of Matachewan First Nation who hails from North Bay, each received the Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth during the Conference Board of Canada’s National Summit on Indigenous Youth and Natural Resource Development in Calgary.

"Both winners have shown strong commitment to their communities, an impressive interest in their fields of study, and should look forward to rewarding careers in Canada's innovative forest sector,” said Margaret Miller, natural resources minister for Nova Scotia, in a news release.

Currently pursuing a master's of sustainable forest management at the University of British Columbia, Isabelle Males intends on becoming a registered professional forester (RPF). She holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental sciences, majoring in resource management from the University of Guelph. As part of her undergraduate studies, Males completed research with the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation Environment Department. Once certified as an RPF, Males intends on working as an Aboriginal liaison in rural communities in Northern Ontario.

Tristan Flood is currently pursuing a bachelor of science in forest operations with a minor in commerce at the University of British Columbia. In 2016, Flood created his own small wood operation business, combining his interest in entrepreneurship and the forest industry. He has previously volunteered with the Temiskaming Native Women's Support Group and assists his community to plan powwows. Upon graduation, Flood intends to continue operating his business in the forest sector.

"Ms. Males and Mr. Flood are both exceptional youth working to improve and support their communities and the forest sector," said Derek Nighbor, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), in the release.

"The forest sector benefits greatly and relies on the enthusiasm and dedication of Aboriginal youth pursuing careers in the forest sector for its future success."

FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $67-billion-a-year forest products industry represents two per cent of Canada's GDP and operates in over 600 communities, providing 230,000 direct jobs across the country.