A young woman from Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) is one of three recipients of a skills award presented by the Forest Products Association of Canada.
Sarah G. Dixon, 22, is Secwépemc and Nisga’a, with roots deeply connected to her traditional lands, community, and culture in which she loves sharing with others and passing down to future generations.
“When I was first introduced to the forestry industry when I was 17 years old, I never imagined myself wanting to pursue a career within the natural resource industry,” Dixon said. “But in 2020 I started working with Alkali Resource Management in our community doing fuel management, pruning and piling sticks.”
The crew worked in Williams Lake and the Enterprise Road area.
Dixon graduated from Lake City Secondary Williams Lake Campus in 2019 and has been attending the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George taking First Nations studies with a double minor in history and political science.
While in high school she signed up with the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) where she was a ranger in 2018.
Through the six-week program she acquired various training including first aid level one, S-100, S-185 and some other tickets.
The rangers also gained experience tree planting, touring industrial sites in the Prince George and Chetwynd areas and gained two high school credits. She returned to the program in 2019 as a second-year ranger and a role model helping the first years navigate the program. Her second year sparked her interest in natural resources, she said.
“That year we did some water safety training. It was also that year where I realized I had some leadership skills.”
In 2021, she was a crew leader with OYEP at a camp in Quesnel for six weeks. The post involved doing management and making sure the younger rangers were where they were supposed to be.
Dixon is proud of her culture.
In 2017 she witnessed the leaders of Esk’etemc sign a declaration of rights and title and has spent time learning about the hereditary system and how Esket is slowing bringing it back.
A powwow princess, she held the title of the Jim Johnson Memorial for three years and while she was a student at Lake City Secondary Columneetza Campus she helped plan a powwow in Grade 9 that continues happening each year.
When Williams Lake First Nation hosted its First Annual Speaking Our Truth Competition Pow Wow the weekend of Sept. 9 through 11, she was able to participate and really enjoyed the opportunity.
She lost her mom Junie Paul in 2018. Paul was a teacher. Her father, Tony Dixon, who is from New Aiyansh, lives in Vancouver.
As for her decision to attend UNBC, she was inspired because community and family members attended or are attending school there.
“It is close enough to Williams Lake that I could come home for a visit,” she added.