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Choose a job you love

My name is Cassandra Bananish, and I am a bilingual Indigenous woman with a passion for the forest. I am from Longlac 58 First Nation and am currently living and studying in Ottawa, Ontario. I am in my second year of college in a three-year program at La Cité in the Forestry and Fauna Program.

I always had an affinity for the outdoors and most of my favourite memories were spent outside. I especially enjoy going fishing and hunting with my grandpa or going on hikes and camping with my mom and friends. I find these experiences to be enriching and I am able to learn hands-on skills outside of school or work.

I started my pathway into the forest sector with the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) as a participant. During the program I learned so much about myself and the forestry/mining sector and the hard reality of tree planting; like getting bit by the horse flies and mosquitos even after you drowned yourself in bug spray or having a drink of water out of your milk jug, and no matter how many times you rinsed it out, the water will always taste slightly like milk. As well as coming back to camp dirty, sore feet and exhausted from the day's work. Coming back to camp I learned to appreciate a nice warm shower and the overall feeling of cleanliness, I especially appreciated having a delicious meal with everyone and talking about how many trees we planted and our goals for the next day.

Despite all those hardships I got up every morning because it’s something I loved doing and like the saying goes “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. I’ve been working with OYEP for three years now and no other job has left me with the feeling of accomplishment like this one has. I had completed my two years as a OYEP participant and was able to apply to be a Crew Leader in Training where I worked at the Sandbar Camp near Thunder Bay. The point of Crew leaders in training is being the bridge between the participants and Crew Leaders/Crew Boss. I was thrilled to be a part of the team and to be able to watch the OYEP participants become more confident by coming out of their shell and seeing them receive the same certificates that I got and watch them develop an appreciation for the opportunity they were given.

In the coming Summer I will be going back as a CIT for a second year thus doing 4 years with the Outland Youth Employment Program and when September rolls around, I will also be returning to La Cité to complete my last year of college and go wherever opportunity takes me.


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