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Have you ever dreamed of giving back to your community by building better hospitals, roads, and bridges, producing better water treatment solutions, or rehabilitating poisoned rivers and lakes? Indigenous communities are experiencing plenty of growth, but don't have enough local engineers to foster the expansion.
Do you identify yourself as a member of an indigenous community and have a love for math and sciences? Consider exploring your potential with a rewarding career in engineering.
Understand your community
Across the country, indigenous communities are expanding rapidly. By facilitating this expansion, it means these communities will be looking for bright engineers to help them do just that. According to Dr. Duncan Cree, a Mohawk from the Kanehsatà:ke community near Oka, Quebec, Engineers help build better communities.
Dr. Cree has a bachelor of arts, master of arts, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering. On the surface, it seems like a lot of work to get to where he is as an engineering professor at the University of Saskatchewan, but according to Dr. Cree, the benefits are well worth the time and effort.
Not only does an education help with increasing wealth and happiness, it also helps to obtain better, more comfortable employment, says Dr. Cree. However, the benefits of a career in engineering are much deeper than mere personal satisfaction.
With an engineering degree and work experience, aboriginal engineers can return to their communities to provide insight and advice, or even be involved in solving the issues with our drinking water problems, sewage treatment problems, fire hazards and prevention, roadways, mining, and the remediation of our polluted rivers, he explains, adding no one can grasp the impact of those issues better than the local engineers within indigenous communities.
Recognize the problem, be the solution
There's been a recognized shortage of indigenous engineers in Canada, let alone indigenous Canadians working and studying in sciences and mathematics. Dr. Cree says less than one per cent of engineers in Canada identify themselves as indigenous. No one can speak to this better than Dr. Lee Wilson, associate professor of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan.
There's just a complete absence. I think maybe [Dr. Cree] is one of the only faculty members in mechanical engineering in Canada. I might be the only faculty in chemistry in Canada'not many around, says Dr. Wilson, of the M├®tis community of Lake Francis, Manitoba, and also a doctorate of chemistry from the University of Saskatchewan.
He says there are simply not enough people in indigenous communities that can adequately tackle their needs.
There's just too many communities I can think of right now that are suffering because they don't have people in a capacity to be able to make decisions in engineering, science, and mathematics, Wilson says. They rely on people outside of their community because they have no one in their community that can deal with those problems.
From building aeroplanes to finding ways of making our fuels cleaner and more efficient, there are over 30 different engineering disciplines young indigenous people can choose from. If you're an aspiring engineer, Dr. Cree and Dr. Wilson advise you to stay focused and give it all you've got'the road may be long and tough, but the rewards are invaluable.
Photos: ndoeljindoel/Thinkstock