BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Locally hired crew members tell us what working on the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project means to them.
THIS PROJECT IS HUGE FOR THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE BEING CONNECTED
I’m from the Pikangikum First Nation. I started working on the Wataynikaneyap Project on a tower assembly crew but now I’m a Runner for Group Three.
It’s a great experience to drive around the North. It doesn’t feel any different than driving around at home in Pikangikum and on the ice roads. I feel very fortunate to be part of something this huge for the communities that are being connected to the power grid. I am proud of myself for providing for my children at home, and I know my family is also proud of me.
THIS PROJECT OPENS UP JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL PEOPLE
I’m from the Lac des Milles Lacs First Nation. I started my career with Valard assembling towers in July 2020. In February 2021 I was moved up to an erection crew where we erect and climb self support towers with the assistance of a crane. We also catch and place tangent towers and wings that are flown in by helicopter. Since moving from assembly to erection I have been accepted into an apprenticeship with Valard.
My goals with Valard are to complete Touch and Go Training with the helicopter. This is when you learn to work directly off the side of the helicopter while it is in the air. I want to accumulate enough working hours to pursue the schooling to become a Journeyman Lineman and complete my apprenticeship.
The project has been an opportunity for me to get into a career I wouldn’t have considered until I started working for Valard. I like the excitement of working with helicopters and working at heights; It’s a rush and it’s not something just anyone can do.
The people I work with are awesome. Everyone on the crew helps each other to improve and I have learned a lot from the people I work around. It makes long shifts easy when you work with people you get along with.
WHAT I LEARN HERE OPENS DOORS FOR MY FUTURE
I am from Deer Lake. I started with Valard as an Assembler, but was recently promoted to Assembly Foreman.
I’ve learned and gained many new skills such as operating machinery, reading prints, communication and how to work safetly and effectively with others. I’ve met a lot of new people, making new friends in all fields of construction. It’s nice to be around people who encourage and motivate you to learn and try new things.
All the training that comes with the job does open a lot of doors for my future. The hospitality is awesome and the food is great. A lot of good laughs, good times and I’m learning. I’m very grateful to be working on the project and I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished and of the faith Valard has shown in my work.
THE WORK WE DO IS VERY IMPORTANT
I have been with Valard since September of 2020. Throughout the months, I have realized that the work we do is very important.
As an Assembler, I am having fun and enjoying my time here every day, building towers. We also get the opportunity to operate different machinery, which I wasn’t expecting to do. Every day we learn and, most of all, meet new friends and get to travel to different places.
Despite the hard work, safety plays a very important role and the hospitality is always excellent, making sure we are well taken care of. I am glad to be part of the team.
I’M PROUD TO BE PART OF A PROJECT THAT WILL IMPROVE OUR COMMUNITIES
My Name is Graham Garrow and I have strong family ties to the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation.
I feel very fortunate to be working for Valard as an Engineering Technologist on the Watay Power Project. It gives me a great sense of pride knowing just how this project will change our North for the better and to be part of that is amazing. The opportunities and working experiences that I have been granted have not only been exciting and educational, but they give me the means to provide for my family, which at the end of the day is most important.
MY WORK WILL AFFECT GENERATIONS TO COME, LONG AFTER I’M GONE
ADAM PETERS, PIKANGIKUM FIRST NATIONS
My father always used to tell me ‘Go to school my son, get an education, so you can make a difference for your people.’ His words still resonate with me as strongly in my adulthood, as they did in my adolescence. I have now been employed with Valard for 10 months, and my father’s words have never had more significance than they have in the last ten months.
Working for Valard has been a remarkable experience as it has taught me many things about my character – perseverance, endurance, resilience, just to name a few. It has also brought me much reward and satisfaction. I know that, by tapping into my full potential, I will not only contribute to the growth and prosperity of First Nations people, but to society as a whole.
Connecting our neighbouring communities to the grid not only brings me satisfaction, as I see each tower I helped assemble erected, but it brings me purpose. My work will affect generations to come, long after I’m gone. Valard has brought such a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful to be a part of this project.
I’M BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE COMMUNITY AND FOR MYSELF
I learned about this job from a posting in my community (Sachigo). Working with Valard has been interesting. I get to work at different sites in remote parts of Northern Ontario. I also get to meet different people who have worked with Valard longer – I like hearing their stories about each place they’ve worked at.
At first, I didn’t know much about building towers – it looked super intimidating but after building a couple of them you start to remember – then it gets easier. With this type of work and income, I can afford to go to college as well as work, since most college are online now.
I hope more people from northern communities take advantage of the opportunity.
THIS JOB HELPS ME REACH MY GOALS
I am proud of my work as it makes me feel good about myself and the people I work with. I am a woman who is succeeding in reaching my goals.
We are young Native women working as a team (Asher Madame is my co-worker) within an all Indigenous Assembly Crew! The work is very satisfying, and Valard treats you very good here; they encourage me in a positive way. Working in such a great environment make it more enjoyable.
I’M MAKING MY FAMILY PROUD
This project makes me feel proud to be a part of it! I’m also proud of my own work and my family has pride in me. Valard supervisors have always supported me and have given me a chance to succeed; I have a great crew to work for and also joke around with – it’s a great work environment.
My long-term career goals are with Valard as I plan to keep on advancing in the company.
SAFETY IS A TOP PRIORITY
What does the power line mean to me?
Helping to get the northern communities on a reliable power grid. Working for Valard has been a wonderful experience, right from the head office to field staff. Everyone will answer any questions you have and will explain different procedures.
I have worked oil field for 17 years and the safety here is above and beyond.
I LOVE WORKING WITH AN ALL INDIGENOUS CREW
I’m happy to be working, especially with an all Nish crew. The camp and food are excellent and I’m just having a great time at work!
MY TIGHT-KNIT CREW FEELS LIKE FAMILY
WARREN KEEPER, PIKANGIKUM FIRST NATION
My experience so far with working with Valard has been good. I’ve worked with two crews since last year and both have been very supportive, encouraging, and most of all, very helpful in sharing work and personal experiences (balance work and personal issues).
Working with a tight-knit unit and long shifts tends to develop a brotherhood within a crew and with other crews. The most experienced will often take their time to show the new guys how the team operates and does things. Working with others in a tight unit often creates friendships and a “brother” mentality, and with that often comes humour, as you need spirit daily to have fun with your job.
My advice is to get an education, take advantage of training opportunities, be open to new experiences, and work hard to achieve what you want. Still, sometimes life leads you down a different path you originally intended, and that’s not always a bad thing.
GOOD PEOPLE, ACCEPTING ATMOSPHERE
I like working for Valard for the money and for the training they provide. I started off as an Assembler and moved to Foundations where we work with helicopters, rigging our heliportable equipment and moving them from site to site, specializing in dead end foundations. The people are good and the atmosphere is accepting.