Dear Premier Horgan,
I was very disappointed to hear a news report a couple of weeks ago that I can’t get out of my mind. So I decided to write to you about it.
The news item states that your government is taking $25 million dollars from the Skawahlook First Nation youth employment project, and directing it instead to displaced forestry workers.
First, I completely understand that displaced forestry workers have to be given adjustment programs just as oil workers do in Alberta. We are in a time of major transition and it is happening rather fast. We have to support Canadians to be able to make those adjustments.
Nevertheless, we both know that $25 million is not a lot of money in today’s world. It is peanuts to provide employment for First Nations at risk youth who want to find ways to become part of the modern economy. What a white supremacy, colonialist attitude to think we can take such programs away from First Nations Youth to support settlers from another area. Instead we need to see real transition planning in place for all workers to help them retrain for the new economy — and First Nations youth should be included in those programs and have access to training dollars.
Let me add a small postscript here. Our forestry sector is in trouble for a number of reasons.
The pine beetle has destroyed a great deal of wood. (climate change)
Forest fires have eaten up huge swaths of forest. (climate change)
We have over-forested and failed to plan for the future
We are cutting raw logs and sending them unprocessed to China
We have not done our due diligence in replanting the forests and when we do, we plant monoculture farms instead of real forests.
We are destroying our old growth forest to produce soft toilette paper. The old growth forests are our protection against out of control forest fires. We will pay a big price for logging them down to nothing. We should have a complete moratorium on logging old growth now. There is hardly any left.
We need to change our ways in relation to the First Nations and in relation to the forests. It will be very hard to do, and we need to be building the new economy in a post carbon world if we are going to sustain our communities. Let’s put our people to work retrofitting our homes so as not to waste energy. Let’s make sure we are training people for the high tech jobs in energy storage, energy transmission, and balancing a grid with variable inputs. And let’s make use of our own wood to produce houses or paper or other products. I am so proud of my nephew who sells classy, high-end solid fir doors around the world. Let’s encourage more of that.
”A politician thinks about the next elections—the statesman thinks about the next generations.”
James Freeman Clarke