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A promising career in the making

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Working for an organization that represents one’s culture and heritage may seem a little out of reach, but for former Minitonas resident Tayler Fleming, it has been a very promising career in the making.
Tayler is the daughter of Peter and Christina Fleming and now works for the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) in the field in which she pursued her academic studies. Over the years, Fleming has been very active in the Minitonas MMF Local and spent a great deal of time playing violin at many MMF events.
Little did she know that later on she would find support in her future endeavours by way of a career
and prove to be a role model for many Metis youth in the area. “I graduated from the Swan Valley Regional Secondary School (SVRSS) in 2015,” said Manitoba Metis Federation Green Initiatives Coordinator Tayler Fleming.
“I went on to take the Land and Water Management Technologies diploma program at Assiniboine Community College (ACC) for two years. “I graduated from ACC in 2017, and I could’ve stopped my education then, but I decided to take advantage of the Two Plus Two program between ACC and Brandon
University (BU). I continued on from ACC to BU and did two years there, studying for a Bachelor of Science with a major in Geography and a minor in Native Studies.” There are a lot of options for career paths once someone obtains a Bachelor of Science and it was difficult at first for Fleming to pinpoint exactly what career track she wanted to embark upon. The bonus was having so many different options to choose from.
“I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do careerwise once I had finished my education,” continued Fleming. “The realm of possibilities within the Environmental Studies area is quite large. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue and get my Masters or if I wanted to get out, gain some experience and establish a career.
I thought about being an environmental consultant. “I had also done some Indigenous monitoring
throughout my university days as well and I really enjoyed that work too. However, it was a little 
controversial for me because it would require working on a project like energy, such as hydro or a pipeline, and I would have to rely on the length of those projects to determine how long I would be
employed. 
Fortunately, I fell into where I am now and I am really enjoying what I do.” Through Fleming’s connections, she was able to secure a position with the MMF related to her field of study. In a short
time, she has worked her way up to playing a more prominent role in being an advocate for the environment for the Metis government.
“Having a strong networking connection is very important to finding a job or long-term career,” said Fleming. “I had taken a break after graduating university and took on a summer position in Saskatoon
with the federal government. After that, I took a couple of months off to figure out exactly where I
wanted to be with my career.
“I had connections with the MMF and the position they offered me was a good fit for what I was looking for. I went in for a research assistant position and they offered me the Outreach Officer for the Boreal Forest and Indigenous Community Based Climate Monitoring Program. 
Since then, I’ve been promoted to my current role as the Green Initiatives Coordinator. “With this position, I get a mix of business and financial side of things with having to find funding, but then with that comes the enjoyable part of planning all kinds of land-based activities and implementing them,”
continued Fleming. 
“There are always a bunch of different duties as well, but it’s always related to the department I’m working in and the goals of the MMF.”
Fleming enjoys being able to be connected to the land and is keen to find ways to conserve and protect it for future generations to enjoy.
“The part I love the most is the freedom that comes with the different projects that I get to work on,” said Fleming. “Also the fact that the work I do is rooted in with the environment. "The Metis people are
very land-based. We hunt, fish, harvest berries, pick medicines and all of us are either on the land or have been connected to the land at some point in our lives.
There’s also the piece that comes from serving our Metis citizens as well by trying to implement different projects and initiatives that will better the land and environment for their use, which is very promising and exciting.” 
As part of one her programs, Fleming went with a group to the Kettle Hills, which is a large area of land tucked in behind Duck Bay and Lenswood and generally follows the Swan Pelican Provincial Forest. This
area is known for it’s blueberry patch and is a particular parcel of land that the Metis are dedicated to preserving. “One of the programs that I have under my portfolio is the Metis Youth Boreal Forest
Stewardship Program (MYBFSP),” said Fleming.
“This is funded through Environment and Climate Change Canada through their Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program. It has a large focus of land-based education and training while bringing elders and youth
harvesters all together to learn from each other.
“We recently went on a trip to the Kettle Hills, as a collaboration of a couple of programs and did some trail maintenance and vegetation surveys on the blueberry patch.
From our Community Consultations, there’s always a concern about the blueberry patch and how it’s being managed. 
"The fact that the blueberries are continually disappearing and a person has to go further into the patch to get a high yield of berries is a major concern," she continued. "The trip was essentially to go and figure out why this was the case and do a little bit of clean up, because there was a large amount of litter in the
area. 
“On the second day, instead of staying back in the Lenswood area and doing trail maintenance, we had decided to go out to Cowan, near the burn area from this past year. We wanted to get a baseline data of how the fire impacted the land, because our Elders and harvesters have always said the fire can bring a new re-growth and allows the patches to flourish again. We did some more vegetation surveys to see how
the land was consumed by fire and we could see the new regrowth and vegetation starting to emerge. Our goal was to see if the patch would continue to grow out from certain points.” Fleming has big plans
for her role as the Green Initiatives Coordinator. She has three main projects that she is currently dedicating her time and energy to under her portfolio.
“I’ve developed the Green Initiatives Strategy, which I work underneath of, and this is encompassing the
Guardians Program and the MYBFSP,” said Fleming.
“There’s a tree planting initiative, which we’re hoping to plant some trees this fall. Then there’s a food security project that focuses on community gardens and possibly looking into the development of greenhouses for those communities that could use them as a food source. Food in the northern areas is
very expensive, so the idea with this is to put a greenhouse in those communities so they can locally
grow their own produce. Those are the three main initiatives that I am focused on and there’s lots of work to do.”