Life First: Thank You for Looking After One Another in 2016

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Life First: Thank You for Looking After One Another in 2016


Message from Dirk Brinkman, CEO Brinkman Group


Thank you for being with us in 2016. Thank you for taking care of each other. Thank you for being responsible for those who work with us and being responsible for our common environment, the living biosphere.

Thank you Brinkman & Associates Reforestation team,

In 2016, the Brinkman & Associates Reforestation field teams drove two million kilometres to plant over 55 million trees, survey thousands of hectares, brush planted areas, space stands and burn slash piles. All without any critical injuries. Yes, there were small injuries. They still happen planting by hand and slugging trees through the slash with quads.  Thanks to each of you, time loss claims have consistently come down, a decrease from 2014 to 2016 of over 85%!

In 2016, the Urban Restoration team sited and planted thousands of large, choice seedlings, destined to be great shade trees in the cities and roads of Ontario, BC and Alberta. Restoring living infrastructure in Urban ecosystem restoration work also involves heavy hand work, landscaping, traffic control and large tree moving and planting equipment. In 2016 there was one time loss injury.

Thank you, Robyn Mooney and Robin McCullough, our OH&S leaders. Getting here has been a long road.

It has taken leadership at all levels. Thank you, John Lawrence. Thank you, Timo Scheiber, Matt Robertson John Beaton for leading reforestation in the west and thank you, Judi Tetro, Neil Whan and Adam Dixon. for leading reforestation in the east. Thank you, John Grindon for leading restoration in the west and Mike Fisher in the east.

Thanks, most of all, to each of you on the operational field teams, to each Project Manager, to each field OH&S officer, each camp and especially each planter. Thank you for how you each took care of yourselves and of each other.

Thank you BARCA (Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Central America) team,

In 2016, BARCA’s hundreds of field workers, who plant manually, tend manually with machete and brush saws, and fall manually and extract, load and haul with heavy equipment, on client’s plantations in Costa Rica and Panama. In 2016 we continued the trend of great reductions in serious and minor injuries and associated time loss. Thank you Diego Dipieri, Ricardo Lujan, Jose Corrales and Rodolfo Peralta for your leadership in Central America. Thank you Betsy Barcas, for inspiring and leading BARCA’s OH&S program.

Thank you especially Fred Schutter, who retired in 2016, for your many years of leadership. By bringing Brinkman’s innovative problem solving to Central America after seventeen years of leadership in Canada, he built and grew BARCA’s silviculture services programs. Fred’s steadfast stewardship down south over the past twenty one years was that of a true Schutter (in Dutch his name means ‘Guardian’). Your schuttership inspires BARCA’s “La Vida es Primero” core value.

But most of all for BARCA in 2016, thank you to the skilled foresters, field team leaders and each of BARCA’s field silviculture practitioners, you took care of yourselves and each other.

Thank you Brinkman Forest team,

In 2016, Brinkman Forest, with its First Nation partnerships, planned, built road access, harvested, hauled, handled and loaded over 500,000 m3 of logs from mountainous NW BC. All without a time loss injury!

Thank you Cathy Craig for enabling such an incredible year. Thank you Sean Kenmuir and Andrew Burke for orchestrating the conditions to prioritize safe operations. Thank you OH&S leaders, Sonia Oonen and Chris Johnson. Thank you particularly for our Terrace office team of quality foresters and technicians, and the leadership and commitment of the contractors and the owner operators who work with the Terrace team through all of the stages of the harvest and forest management process.

Thank you to those who inspired us,

In 2008 we had tragic losses that haunt us still. In shock, we all recognized we were responsible. Guilt and loss can leave mental injuries. Especially when we work so closely together, so intensely, in adrenaline states, like combatants. Recognizing the depth of that absolute commitment to each other gave rise to the phrase: “Life First”.

Life First was part of our healing and our hard learning that understanding ourselves includes our commitment to take care of each other. Thank you all, for making 2016 a year in which we celebrate safety as our best operating practice.

We also chose the phrase Life First because we all work together in a shared awareness of tragic losses in our environment. Losses for which we recognize we are also responsible. This realization gives rise to an absolute commitment to care for local biomes.

Thank you to the First People,

In 2016 we look back on another year of working with the First Peoples on the reforestation, restoration, and management of their land. Many of us are immigrants, or descendants of immigrants. I was amazed to learn that upon contact in Canada, the First People welcomed us to this land, welcomed us to live here with them and share in their traditions. And I have recognized how in that welcome they share a deep understanding of everyone’s dependency on the land-- that we are all guests here. It is in that context that the indigenous people have a tradition of expressing gratitude for life and its abundance.

The phrase Life First is also a reminder of how our well-being depends on the health and well-being of the biosphere in the land water and air. As much as our safety depends on each others’ well being, our long-term survival depends on us all working together as one to create an economy that respects, protects, restores, and nurtures the biosphere.

Let us recognize that intrinsic to the deep welcome of the First Nations communities with whom we share the land, is a commitment to nurture and protect all life that is vulnerable in that same spirit of care and gratitude.

Thank you to new life,

From the abundance of 2016 we get to renew ourselves from a unique perspective. In 2016 at the Vancouver offices we were reminded to be thankful of another renewal of abundance. In February Robin McCullough took maternity leave to have her daughter Méroux, followed by Deborah Bakker in May for Katie, Dawn Brinkman in November for Fenna and Kate Menzies daughter Sway and Erin Kendall’s yet to be named son in December. In the field, Brian Beaudry paused this summer for daughter Mira and we noted a baby boom is happening there too. Of course, I know I am missing many new babies from our people here and in Central America.

This is fresh for Joyce and I, as we enjoy two more grandchildren (also Dylan from Baba Brinkman in November). As guests in this world welcoming new guests, we are reminded of how deeply this baby boom of abundance and renewal resonates with our commitment to Life First.

We respond to those newly born into the experience of being human with awe, gratitude and deep caring and love. The Life First commitment reflects the same hormonal parental investment response to taking care of and nurturing each other.

Happy new year to all. In 2017, as we come together with friends, family, or people we are just meeting for the first time, let’s renew our Life First commitment to be responsible and care for each other and our local ecosystems. Let this new year with its new initiatives, challenges, and plans, be a year in which we all put Life First!