We have an exciting announcement to make! The Firelight Group has a new Director, Pamela Perreault of Garden River First Nation and Batchewana First Nation. Pamela will be joining us as the Ecology Team Co-Lead in January 2021. Click the video above to learn more about Pamela’s work in forestry and her experiences working with communities. We feel very honoured to have Pamela as a member of our team.

Below is the full transcription from the video:

“Aaniin! Boozhoo! My name is Pamela Perreault and I am very happy to join The Firelight Group as the new Director and Co-lead of the Ecology Team. I’ll also be supporting the development of Indigenous Planning, and all the other wonderful and exciting work that we do in traditional use studies and IBAs. So it’s been my privilege and honour to join the team and I look forward to working with Firelight and communities in the future.”

Who is Pam Perreault?
“So a little bit about myself, I’m a member of Garden River First Nation in Ontario, which is just outside Sioux Sainte Marie. My mom is from Batchewana First Nation, a neighbouring community. I am a mum first and foremost of a six year old boy, happily married, and I live in two places. So I’m very privileged to say that I live on the west coast of British Columbia on Vancouver Island and I also spend plenty of time back in Garden River First Nation where I work with my community, and other northern communities in the area of forestry.”

What past projects are you most proud of?
“So from a community level, I would say that my project that I’m the most proud of is the one that I worked on with my own community in Garden River First Nation and we were mapping wildlife corridors. And it was the first time that I was able to really put forward a community perspective on a very scientifically defined project. From a higher level, regional or national perspective, my favorite project would have to be the development and implementation of forest management standards, with respect to the right to free prior and informed consent for Indigenous Peoples. So I worked with FSC Canada and FSC International and it was a six-year project that I was able to fulfill what I would call seemingly impossible objectives of bringing together people with very different points of view, different values, and different perspectives, and keeping them on track on the sole objective of respecting Indigenous rights in forest management.”

Who or what are the greatest influences in your life?
“Influences in my life would have to be my parents, first of all, and some very important mentors that came from my academic life, but also from communities that I have worked in. So from my parents, first of all, is a work ethic, that perseverance, patience, getting up everyday and starting a new day, helps deal with some problems that may have arisen. Also too, being grounded in values that are born in a community, but practiced at the family level, I think is really important and my family was always there regardless of where I was in the world. Whether I was on the west coast of Canada or on the west coast of Australia, they’re always reminding me where I came from, and where I will eventually return to, from my mentors in academia and communities, I think the greatest lesson and reminder that I get is that knowledge comes in many forms and it’s held by many different people, and animals. Patience, perseverance are virtues that are so important as well to cultivate in community based research. But also, I think, finally, my mentors have taught me that leadership is demonstrated. We can’t just talk about it. We have to, you have to demonstrate to others what it means to be a leader. Respect is earned and not demanded. And also too, the very important, characteristic, I guess, of leadership and a  value that I hold very dear to me would be humility and being able to, to exercise humility, because it keeps the mind and the heart open to new ideas. So being a leader is not being closed off, but being actually open to others sharing their ideas.”

When you see the work that communities are up against, what parts can you help them with?
“I think when I think about what communities are up against, and in my own experience of being part of a leadership group in a community, so I was a member of the Chief and Council in my own community, I, I think what I am able to add or help with the most is helping communities step outside of a siloed, I call it a siloed governance model. So after what seems now to be generations of governments, and even other organizations and private sectors treating, you know, one project, one person, one department, communities from a governance perspective, and how they make decisions are trapped in this model of very much mimicking or addressing projects and problems according to the government structures and federal, in particular, federal and provincial government structures. And I think, from my experience working in different places in the world, and, and working with communities, in different contexts, treaty, non-treaty, working with communities who are, who are litigating around title and rights, I think I’m able to support communities to really prioritize their own way of addressing environmental concerns or community concerns. And if that includes bringing together a bunch of different ways of thinking, of different departments working together that maybe haven’t worked together before, I think that’s where my strength is, is, is doing things differently. And also too, most importantly, prioritizing that. That the community way of doing it is important, the community way of addressing problems and creating solutions is a priority, and putting that front and center. That’s what I would like to do and where I see my supporting communities with land.”

How do you feel about joining Firelight?
“It’s, it’s very, it’s almost an emotional, it’s an emotional response that I have to because I think one of the distinguishing aspects of Firelight is while we are a consulting firm, we are doing, we are at the, the beck and call of communities. We, we are doing the work that the community wants us to do. Not what government, not what private sector, but the parameters of the projects are defined by the community. And you’re only as good as your last project with that community. So, I think the strength of relationships and the commitment of Firelight, to sticking to the, the needs and concerns of community is, is such a high priority in my own life. It just, it just seems to fit really well. And it’s pretty exciting to be part of that, of that kind of organization.”