Indigenous employee shares her talent with New Brunswickers
June 21 2022, 10:02 AM
What started as curiosity about traditional First Nations drumming and singing has led Krista Paul to adventures she never expected.
Krista has been a member of the Corporate Communications team since spring 2021 and is a proud member of the St. Mary’s First Nation.
Her traditional Maliseet name is Mehkwekek Wissekonosotowi-ehpit, which means Red Shawl Woman. And in 2016, she founded Pokəholakənəl Witsehkehsolticik - Sisters of the Drum, an all women Maliseet drumming group.
“When I saw older women passionately singing and drumming for the first time, I was in awe,” Krista said. “I knew I wanted to be part of that, but I was definitely not a singer!”
After spending some time looking for a group to join, in 2016 Krista put out a call on Facebook to see if other local women were interested in starting a group. She was surprised when 27 women of all ages showed up. Some knew Maliseet well, and others only knew a few phrases.
They began to meet weekly and teaching themselves songs with the help of CDs and lots of patience. They would listen to songs by artists like Elder Dr. Maggie Paul and the Negootgook Drummers from Tobique over and over, replicating the sounds and rhythm.
The drum represents the heartbeat of a mother. Krista says that’s why you feel so connected and emotional when you hear it – you’re brought back to your mother’s womb. The circular shape of the drum represents interconnectedness to one another, and the cedar hoop and animal skin is indicative of First Nations connection to the land and animals. Krista now owns four drums, including one made by her sister in a cultural course. The material used creates different sounds based on thickness – from elk to deer and moose.
The group kept practicing, growing more confident and connected. The first time they performed in public was 2017 at the Take Back the Night event in Fredericton. The event is part of a global movement to stand up against sexual violence – a cause that Krista is particularly passionate about.
“Violence against women, especially Aboriginal women, is something that we cannot allow to continue,” said Krista. “Marching in the streets with other women, singing our hearts out with our drums, was a magical experience.”
From there, word quickly spread about Pokəholakənəl Witsehkehsolticik, leading them to many performance opportunities, from funerals to large scale events.
Since the group started performing, they’ve had some major highlights, including
- opening the 2017 State of the Province Address
- being nominated for the Indigenous Artist of the Year at the Music NB Awards in 2022
- participating in Drums Across Canada 2021, which was live streamed from five communities
- performing at the Wolastoq Treaty Day 2022 event
- singing with Jeremy Dutcher at the Atlantic Ballet’s celebration of 20 years of dance
Krista said the support and fanfare has been surprising and thrilling. She especially loves interacting with children to share her culture and excite them about music. She never expected when the group started that she and her sister would become role models and community leaders.
“Our group is proof that when a group of women put their minds together, they can achieve anything,” said Krista. “We’ve become sisters and are more connected to our culture - from language and history to tradition and song. Drumming has given me the opportunity to find a place where I belong. It’s humbling and so rewarding.”
Co-op Placements a Win-Win
November 17 2021, 11:25 AM
For Massan Dopegno, NB Power is an opportunity to put what she’s learning at Université De Moncton (U de M) into action.
The third-year Computer Science student started her first eight-month Co-op term with our Digital Technology team on May 3, 2021.
Massan is from Togo, a country in West Africa. She began her post-secondary studies in Togo and realized that she wanted to study abroad. After researching her options as an international student, she chose U de M and travelled to Canada for the first time, arriving in the dead of winter in 2019.
“Arriving in a new place where I knew no one was a big adjustment, and then on top of that it was -15 C, something I hadn’t felt before,” says Massan. “But New Brunswick is great – I really like it here. I’ve found people here very enthusiastic and open minded to learn about my culture and share their own. From day one, I’ve felt welcomed by New Brunswickers, my U de M community and NB Power."
To be eligible for a Co-op term at NB Power, students must be enrolled in Co-op programs at post-secondary institutions. This means that their education alternates between academic studies and periods of paid job experience to enhance their overall learning.
Massan takes direction from Gino Arseneau, Senior IT Specialist, who has worked at NB Power for 30 years. Gino’s group is responsible for the development and support of applications such as e-Forms, Timesheet and off-the-shelf applications like PeopleSoft and SAP.
Gino says the partnership with post-secondary institutions is mutually beneficial. He is currently leading four Co-op employees from U de M and UNB: Massan, Cody Dunnett, Nick Trask and Nicole Duplessis. They are primarily focused on custom application development using Microsoft Visual Studio.
“I love working with students – they are full of energy and so eager to learn,” says Gino. “We see them bringing new ideas to the table every day. They are so engaged because we’re giving them a chance to gain practical experience that links to their theoretical learning in school. A positive Co-op term enhances the student’s overall education by also providing experience with how businesses operate and the social aspect of a real workplace.”
For Gino’s team, there’s a mix of simple and complex work to find that sweet spot between keeping students engaged but not overloaded. For many, it’s their first chance to work in both development (creation and testing) and production (live, in use) environments.
“I really love when a colleague comes to us with an issue and we get to go solve it,” said Massan. “Gino sets the direction, but doesn’t give us the solution, and he’s there if we get stuck. But we really get a chance to stand on our own. It’s been an amazing experience to be treated as a peer and have my opinions and expertise respected.”
The most common Co-op placements at NB Power involve Power Engineering, Business Administration, Digital Technology and Engineering.
Carole Volpe, Senior Manager, Careers & Resourcing, says that Co-op placements with universities and colleges allow NB Power to connect with future employees while meeting business needs.
“The ultimate goal is that we’ll capture the attention of these students so they’ll want to work at NB Power after graduation,” said Carole. “We see it all the time – the next-level caliber of job candidates who participated in Co-op programs. It might take longer to complete your program, but the hands-on experience is invaluable.”
Massan is very happy with her decision to go through a Co-op program. She can already see how she’ll have an edge when it comes to job hunting after graduation.
“Even in just a few months, my confidence in my abilities has grown,” said Massan. “Not to mention that moving to Fredericton and starting this role is helping me improve my English and network in new ways. I am so thankful for this opportunity and know it is setting me up for success with the rest of my program when I return to school this winter.”
Engineers driving reliability of generating stations
March 11 2021, 09:37 AM
Did you know that March is National Engineering Month? Throughout our province, NB Power employs more than 350 engineers. These hardworking employees work in our generating facilities and offices, on our distribution and transmission infrastructure and in the field around your communities.
From analyzing the core of a nuclear reactor to helping to develop a new transmission line, engineering at NB Power provides a diverse and exciting career path.
René Paulin is one of two Mechanical Engineers at the Belledune Generating Station, a coal plant in the northern part of the province.
After growing up in Petit-Rocher, René completed a Mechanical Engineering degree at Université de Moncton. During his studies, he worked at Belledune as a summer student and got a taste of what it’s like working in a power plant. After gaining some hands-on job experience after graduation, René accepted an engineering position at NB Power in 2008.
A key member of the operating team for the past decade, René’s days are filled with inspections, problem solving and developing recommendations for the maintenance team to keep the station operating safely and reliably.
The engineering team at Belledune also takes care of work in other locations, such as our Millbank and Ste. Rose combustion units, Nepisiguit Falls hydro station and the Eel River High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter station. This means their knowledge covers multiple facilities and types of generation– each presenting its own challenges.
“Each day is an adventure, and I am fortunate to be able to learn more with every job,” said René. “I really enjoy finding solutions to complex problems – that’s why I became an engineer. My role allows me to work on many different types of equipment and systems, which means lots of variety and interesting work.”
Bernard Roy, Station Manager for Belledune (and fellow engineer!), says that engineers like René have the unique opportunity to learn about different parts of the provincial power grid.
“In French, we would say staff like René are “polyvalent” – which basically means he’s well rounded, and nimble to respond to anything that comes up,” said Bernard. “Our engineers work closely with maintenance teams, work planners and management to help keep all of our assets operating safely and reliably.”
René and his wife live in Bathurst with their two sons. When he’s not working, his family spends a lot of time at local rinks for hockey, and René coaches his sons’ teams. Some of his engineering skills like troubleshooting, time management and collaboration are as handy on the ice as they are at work.
So what’s the best part about being an engineer at NB Power according to René?
“I am fortunate to work alongside some wonderful New Brunswickers,” he said. “The knowledge and talent of my co-workers is second to none. We’re all working together to make sure New Brunswick communities can count on reliable energy to power their homes and businesses.”
NB Power Employee Helps Rescue a Fellow New Brunswicker
August 18 2020, 16:40 PM
Sometimes heroes wear hard hats instead of capes.
Terry Bass, a Construction Manager at NB Power, certainly wasn’t expecting to be part of a life-saving rescue when he went to work on a beautiful summer morning. Terry was working alongside a crew from East Coast Powerline in the forest near Allardville. With the help of a Vortex company helicopter, they were working on reliability upgrades in northern New Brunswick.
While on top of an 80-foot tall tower, a member of the crew heard someone calling out for help. They yelled in the direction of the sound and a woman shouted back that she’d been lost in the woods for days and couldn’t walk anymore.
Terry and the rest of the team jumped into action, starting the emergency response plan they learn before each project. They coordinated with Ambulance NB and the RCMP before setting off in the helicopter. Armed with a backboard and medical supplies, the team was dropped off near the marshy rescue area.
“The crew waded through knee-deep water, grass, mud, and kept going until they found her,” said Terry. “Amazingly she was able to speak and in good spirits but was not able to get out of there on her own. We worked together to carry her out of the marsh and onto solid ground. Then we figured out the nearest access road and carried her through the dense forest and brush while medics attended to her needs.”
After hiking about 2.4 kilometers, the crew was shocked to discover it was a woman from Saint-Isidore who had been missing for nearly two weeks. RCMP and Ground Search and Rescue had been looking for her.
“I just can’t believe she’s alive,” said Terry. “She said she’d been drinking water on leaves and eating berries she found on the ground. It’s remarkable that she was doing so well after such a terrible experience. We are all so happy that we happened to be in the right place – a very remote one – to be able to help her get home.”
Terry and the crew helped first responders get the woman to an ambulance and she was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries. She is happy to be back home, thanks to the heroics of our team.
Anyone who knows Terry won’t be surprised that he played a role in this life-saving mission. He is passionate about helping others and is a perfect example of what our employees are all about.
At NB Power, we are proud of our people that are the heart of our company. Working in communities across our great province, our employees have been serving New Brunswickers for more than 100 years.
This story is a powerful example of how a perfectly-timed coincidence, paired with courage and know-how, can change someone’s life.
National Lineworker Appreciation Day
July 10 2019, 11:29 AM
July 10th is the anniversary of the death of Henry Miller, lineworker and founding president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He died on the job from electrocution.
To honour the important work linemen like Henry do every day across Canada, The Canadian Electricity Association is proposing that July 10 become National Lineworker Appreciation Day.
Lineworkers are the people who make sure Canadians have the power they need. But their jobs are not easy. The Globe and Mail ranked lineworkers as having one of the 10 riskiest jobs in Canada in 2019.
Ross Galbraith, Business Manager of IBEW Local 37 in New Brunswick, said this day commemorates Henry’s death and recognizes lineworkers who continue to do dangerous work.
“It is important to recognize the work that they do to provide safe and reliable power. They do this not only during a blue sky day but also during times of significant bad weather events.”
Nicole Poirier, NB Power’s Executive Director of Customer Services, said this day also recognizes the teams that support our lineworkers. Lineworkers are supported everyday by employees working in all areas of the company, such as the warehouse, engineering, dispatch, customer service, IT and accounting. It really takes the entire team working together to make it all happen.
Line work is not for everyone. It takes a special person to spend so much time away from their loved ones and perform such a dangerous job. We appreciate and thank all our lineworkers for their dedication to their communities.