Setting a bold forestry career path.
With the whirring of a brush saw in his ears, Gregory Daniels was a teenager happy to earn a paycheque.
A job, yes. But a career in forestry? That seemed a long way off.
“I was working minimum-wage jobs,” Daniels recalls. “But all of my employers encouraged me to pursue post-secondary education.”
Whether it was working that brush saw near his home community of Canim Lake, B.C., or working in a tree nursery, the common denominator in those entry-level positions was forestry.
Like many of the forest service roads he has driven for work, Daniels’ route to UNBC was not straight. In addition to his early work experience, Daniels made stops at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and in 100 Mile House working as a silviculture technician with West Fraser. It was his supervisor there who encouraged Daniels to further his studies. UNBC’s Ecosystem Science and Management Program was the natural choice.
“All the other people in the office came through the UNBC program and they had good things to say about it,” he says.
Not only did his employers urge him to seek a degree, they also suggested he apply for the Forest Products Association of Canada Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth. Daniels was one of only two winners from across the country.
“I was unsure if this was going to be the industry for me, but after getting the award it solidified that idea,” he explains. “It’s awards like this that lead to more Aboriginal involvement in the forestry industry.”
He returned to the West Fraser operation in 100 Mile House for a summer student position this year, but his long-term goal is to return home and give back to the community of Canim Lake.
“I’m going to gather the experience I need, and then I’d really like to go back and help my reserve with their natural resources.”