My name is Catherine Langille and I am a young Indigenous woman from Seine River First Nation who currently resides in Thunder Bay Ontario. I am in my first-year college studying environmental science & natural resources at Fleming College with an end goal of a master’s degree.
I have a unique pathway into forestry. I initially started as an Outland Youth Employment Program Participant (OYEP). During that time, I started looking up to those who could handle heat, cold, weather, soreness, all while keeping a positive attitude. Before OYEP I knew nothing about forestry, so there is where it all began.
After OYEP, I started working an office job, moved to an urban area, and went to school for general arts and science… I was really unsure about life in all honesty. I got a call from my OYEP supervisor and he offered me a biologist assistant job at Quetico Provincial Park, and I had no idea how much my perspective was going to change. I went on 8-day canoe trips, studied the land, visited historical sites that my ancestors once lived upon, and swam and drank from the waters shared with Indigenous Peoples who were there before me. The land itself started teaching me about my identity as an Indigenous woman and my personal connection to the land, through weather, cold nights, hot days, hydration, and survival. On my last canoe trip of that season, I officially decided to pursue a career in the forest.
Once I knew in my gut that this is what I could do forever, I fearlessly started looking for more work within OYEP because I knew that way I could stay connected to Indigenous youth & continue learning about myself and the options open to me for the future. I gained a mentor who has a strong career in forestry, and I told him my ideas, plans, and some weaknesses I needed to improve. With the guidance of my mentor, I applied to be a Crew Leader In Training (CIT) for OYEP and for a position at Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) that I didn't think I could get and I ended up getting both.
I am now an official Crew Leader with OYEP, a Tree Assessor for Outland Camps, and an Indigenous Youth Opportunities Intern at PLT Canada and I am still just in my first year of college. I emphasize this to show that several pathways are possible. All my work experience has gotten me exactly where I needed to be. I plan to continue growing with Indigenous Peoples and forests using my personal connection to the land and my positive mindset.