News & Updates
CN Rail Reforesting Traditional Lands: Brinkman and Tree Canada Collaborate with First Nation Family
By Erik Brinkman
Every year across Canada CN Rail’s sustainability program sponsors many reforestation projects, offsetting the clearing of new rail lines and the production of new railway ties. By 2015 they will have planted over one million trees, which makes them the leading private non-forestry company tree planter in Canada. Tree Canada, a non-profit organization that specializes in coordinating the pro bono planting of trees for various purposes has partnered with CN to help see these projects happen. This year through Tree Canada, CN Rail sponsored the planting of 100,000 seedlings by Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd. on the TseK'hene traditional First Nation territory of the Chingee family about 60kms North of Prince George.
Brinkman has ties with the Chingee family that go back to 1968 when Dirk Brinkman, met TseK’hene elder Harry Chingee during the clearing of the Williston Reservoir. In 2013 the next generation of the two families reconnected when I met Harry’s son Bernie Chingee. Bernie and family own Loon’s Haven Resort campground on Summit Lake which was the home of the treeplanting crew I manage for two seasons. The Chingee family also own a beautiful site on Augustine Lake, where, in 2015, we collaborated on developing a new planting campsite. The new campsite is next to a harvested beetle kill block with poor regrowth and wetlands, which would significantly benefit from the planting of a new forest. So together, we put in an application with Tree Canada to organize the planting of the 100,000 seedlings on behalf of CN Rail on the Chingee Augustine Lake block.
Bernie and his nephew Justin picked up the shovel and joined the crew to fill plant their block with pine, spruce and fir. I saw planters pounding by my trailer office window while they planted right through camp, smelling dinner as they bagged out at the end of the day.
To thank CN for their contribution to reforestation in the Prince George region, we hosted a cedar plank maple salmon barbeque lunch, prepared by chef extra-extraordinaire Aaron Molloy. Speeches expressing gratitude where delivered by the lake and a carved cedar paddle was gifted by the Chingees to CN for their contribution to reforesting reserve lands. First Nations dancers Kelsey Abraham, Tracy Peters, and kaitlyn Chouinard shared moving gestural stories in full regalia. In attendance were CN Rail Superintendent of the BC North Norm Hart, Tree Canada’s representative and frequent Brinkman collaborator Christian Walli, Brinkman Regional Manager Matt Robertson who was integral to coordinating the project, and my team of forest athletes and of course Bernie and Justin Chingee.
This event was a season highlight for the crew, who has become close to the Chingee family and look forward to future collaborations with CN, Tree Canada and the Chingees.