Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

ICYMI: Squamish stewards of the forest: New doc spotlights Indigenous forestry workers

Explore the evolution of sustainable forestry practices through the lives of Indigenous families deeply rooted in the industry, as showcased in the documentary 'Stewards of the Forest.'

"My dad was a boom man, my brother was a boom man, my uncle George was a boom man," says Squamimsh's Tom Harry, in the new Indigenous Resource Network documentary,"Stewards of the Forest: Indigenous Leadership in Forestry."

A "boom man" is a skilled worker who walks on the logs in the water and uses a pole to move them into a bundle.

The 16-minute documentary, which is now available on YouTube, features many other locals who work in the forest industry, including Paul and Roger Lewis, Kayla Buckley, and Daniel Morckinson. 

Each local talks about their deep connection to the forest industry and the land. 

They also speak to the changes in the industry over time that have made it more environmentally sustainable. 

"Things have become so much more environmentally friendly," says Buckley, a log sort manager with Nch’kay Forestry, the economic development arm of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).

Those featured are part of families who have been in the industry for generations. 

"My grandfather was a logger, my uncle was a logger, my father died as a logger," Morckinson says, in the video. "All my uncles were loggers and, really, you are in a town that was pretty much 90% logging."

The piece was shot in January and includes current and historical footage of people and locations of logging in the region.

Indigenous Resource Network (IRN) executive director John Desjarlais told The Squamish Chief that the IRN was excited to showcase the local voices in the film and their “world-class relationship” with the resource industry.

"It's inspiring to see, and I think it's an important story to tell," he said. 

While the film provides some historical context for the role of Indigenous foresters in the Sea to Sky Corridor, Desjarlais said it isn't just about the past; it is about the vital contribution Indigenous foresters are making today and well into the future.

"Indigenous people are owning development projects, owning development corporations and entities, and they're participating progressively and actively along all the different sides of that different management—from ownership and authority and governance and supervision and management. And, of course, still the entry-level side too. And so, it's really exciting."

According to IRN, 17 million hectares of Canadian forest are under Indigenous forestry management, and the Forest Products Association of Canada says that there are 1,400 Indigenous-owned forestry businesses that employ approximately 11,600 Indigenous workers

The second half of the two-part series digs deeper, Desjarlais said. 

“Into the back end of some of the activities, and then focuses on some other communities and some other areas as well, too, in terms of the entire value chain. How Indigenous people are involved in the entire value chain in forestry.”

See all the IRN videos on its YouTube channel.