Key factors influencing First Nation youth perspectives on forest management and capacity development in northern Ontario, Canada
Robitaille, Paul A.
Master of Science
SubjectFirst Nation youth (forestry-related issues)
First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program
Forest sector relationships
Policies and capacity development
MetadataShow full item record
First Nation youth often play a central, though indirect, role in Ontario’s forest sector as the beneficiaries of capacity-building arrangements, employment opportunities and cultural-retention initiatives. Correspondingly, recent peer-reviewed literature has emphasized the need to engage First Nation youth directly regarding the forestry-related issues that affect them. Such steps will help to ensure that forest policy and youth-focused capacity development initiatives fully realize their intended benefits and remain relevant into the future. Despite this imperative, the direct engagement of First Nation youth remains a major outstanding gap in the research. This exploratory study endeavoured to fill the current knowledge gap by directly engaging First Nations youth participants in the First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program through semi-structured interviews and focus group activities. Using inductive, qualitative grounded theory analysis, four key perspective-influencing factors were identified: relationship; natural and socioeconomic cycles; intergenerational equity; and the resource trap. These explanatory factors indicate that participants’ thought processes and worldviews are deeply grounded in and affected by the unique historical experiences, sociocultural traditions and contemporary lived realities of their First Nation communities. Forest sector relationships, policies and capacity development initiatives in Ontario could thus be supported through the adoption of several specific policy directions, including: mandating comprehensive social impact analysis as a component of forest management planning; including specific funding for education and employment supports within broader capacity development initiatives; and supporting additional opportunities for culturally-rooted, land-based, experiential learning for First Nation youth.