When Tristan Flood is out on the land, he feels at home.
Flood, 22, is in his final year studying the forest management program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
He recently won the Skills Awards for Indigenous Youth presented by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM).
During this past summer, he worked as a woodlands summer student with EACOM Timber Corporation in Timmins.
A Matachewan First Nation member, Flood said he is very excited to be recognized for his accomplishments.
“I put in good work this summer. I’ve done a lot of stuff over the past couple of years in school,” he said explaining he had a good overall performance in school last year and he learned "quite a bit" despite the pandemic and some challenges studying online. “Just to top all that off with a good summer was just a great feeling."
It was a great experience working with the EACOM team during the summer, he said. He was assisting with the harvest, monitoring roads and looking after the contractors. His supervisor was off for a few weeks in the summer, so Flood was given a responsibility to watch after a contractor on his own.
Supervising a harvest contractor by himself was a big learning curve for him but he managed to get it done.
“That threw me in there to the thick of it. With the help from other supervisors and people higher up in the woods department, they helped me out, guided me through the process,” Flood said.
When he’s doing assignments or working on big projects, he always strives to put in his best efforts.
After graduating, he plans to obtain Registered Professional Forester (RPF) designation and start his career. He wants to work with First Nation communities and advocate for First Nations’ participation in forestry.
Flood is passionate about helping First Nations be involved in forestry and help them move forward.
“The older I get, the more knowledge I gain, I think First Nations should be more involved when it comes to the management decision and resource revenue sharing,” he said.
Flood’s father is a registered professional forester in the province and is a big First Nations advocate for forestry. Being around it, going out in the bush with his father as a young boy and having the opportunity to be outdoors attracted Flood to the forestry field.
He likes being in the boreal forest around Matachewan, especially during the fall season.
For First Nations people, working in forestry is a great opportunity to connect with the land and gain a sense of home, he said.
“I know when I’m out on the land, I feel like I'm at home. I feel happy, I just feel in a good mood,” he said. “Knowing you can be boots on the ground in the bush, ensuring that forest will be managed sustainably for your kids, your grandkids, it’s a great feeling and it’s very rewarding.”