Driving Employment Opportunities for First Nations

Paige is pursuing her dreams to become a biologist — making a difference
Jun 23, 2016 3:50 PM ET

Dream job within reach for Ontario’s Paige Williams

Like many Canadian young people, Curve Lake First Nation resident Paige Williams is following her passion.

She recently graduated from Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., with an Bachelor of Science degree in biology (with honours), and knows what she would love to do most with it.

“My dream job would be working as a biologist for an environmental consulting company or working as a biologist for the government,” says Williams, part of a southern Ontario community within 40 kilometres (25 miles) of TransCanada’s Eastern Mainline Project.

BEAHR program helps First Nations youth

Her ideal employment opportunity may be one step closer now after she and six other local Indigenous youth participated in the TransCanada-sponsored Building Environmental Aboriginal Human Resources (BEAHR) program.

For almost two months, students participated in classroom training and archeological and environmentally-focused field trips, which included a tour of TransCanada’s compressor station in the Township of Alnwick-Haldimand.

At the end of the program they presented their research on environmental issues affecting their community, which included land development, water safety and stream ecology.

The results of their research will be useful in preparing site-specific information about the land and environment — information that is critical to developing an effective Environmental Protection Plan.

TransCanada worked with Curve Lake First Nation and Peterbrough’s Fleming College to create a tailored curriculum for the BEAHR program that would benefit all parties.

BEAHR is a nationally recognized training program that incorporates local Indigenous traditional knowledge with western science.

TransCanada active in other Ontario Indigenous communities

In 2015, the Eastern Mainline Project also contributed to the restoration of the historic Christ Church on the Tyendinaga Reserve in Ontario.

Built in 1843, the church is one of only six royal chapels outside of the United Kingdom. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte use the facility not only as a place of worship but also as a community resource centre.

TransCanada recognizes and respects the rights of Indigenous peoples and their distinct relationship with the land. The company seeks to understand how our activities may affect Indigenous communities and believes that it is important to integrate traditional knowledge into our environmental planning.

‘Can lead to long term opportunities’

Paige Williams (left) and a colleague at work during their time in the BEAHR program.

As for Williams, she is feeling pretty good about what she accomplished.

“It was a short term program, but can lead to long term opportunities,” she says. “I’m looking forward to applying the skills acquired in the field to a career in environmental consulting and will be watching for opportunities with this (Eastern Mainline) project.”

Lisa Kraemer, BEAHR program instructor, agrees that career possibilities went hand-in-hand with the course.

“The learning that took place in the classroom and on the land in the community was an ideal blend of content introduction, critical thinking, skills acquisition, and knowledge application,” she says.

“It was easy to see how the students would be better prepared for potential work opportunities in the future through their engagement in this course.”

Related information:

Community, Aboriginal and Native American relations at TransCanada

2015 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report (PDF, 6.9 MB): Our approach to Indigenous relations