The most recent sustainability report from paper and pulp manufacturer Paper Excellence featured the experiences two Skookumchuk Pulp Mill employees had at last year’s Indigenous led cultural awareness training.
In the report, Paper Excellence said one of their objectives in 2022 was to “engage effectively with Indigenous peoples and communities,” which included focusing on how businesses like the mills they operate intersect with Indigenous values and world views.
The Indigenous cultural awareness training module they developed was well received and this year was fully integrated into their new learning management system and made a standard part of their employee onboarding.
“Overall the experience was very powerful and effective to me and a lot of us and so many people who were born and brought up in Canada, they were like ‘it was crazy that we didn’t know about all this,’” said Khushbu Vandara, environmental supervisor at the Skookumchuk Pulp Mill.
This training session was led by representatives of the Ktunaxa Nation and were held at St. Eugene, the former residential school the Nation now owns and operates as a high-end golf course, casino and resort.
Vandara added that the training helped understand better and become more sensitive as to why the work she does on projects pertaining to natural resources and the environment requires input from the community before decisions are made.
The training featured an exercise that illustrated the declining amount of land Canada’s Indigenous peoples have been allowed to occupy through Canada’s history.
“For myself, working on the fibre side and working on the land, it’s quite easy to mesh forestry objectives with First Nations objectives,” said fibre superintendent Andy McCuaig.
“We’re talking about ecosystem restoration projects, those are things that the pulp mill can support, and First Nations have been doing this over time throughout history using fire as a tool to restore ecosystems and promote grasslands rehabilitation and also food for ungulates that are a food source obviously.
“For me it’s an understanding of how to work on the land better and how to work together to achieve those kinds of objectives.”
You can view Paper Excellence’s full sustainability report here: paperexcellence.com/sustainability-report/