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Indigenous employee shares her talent with New Brunswickers

June 21 2022, 10:02 AM

Indigenous employee shares her talent with New Brunswickers

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.”

Three Takeaways from the 2022 Energizing Efficiency Conference

June 17 2022, 10:03 AM

Three Takeaways from the 2022 Energizing Efficiency Conference

NB Power’s Energizing Efficiency Conference made a strong comeback last week, after a three-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions.

The 2022 event took place June 7 and 8 at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre. More than 280 people attended the conference and dinner, representing diverse business sectors, organizations and education centers.

From municipal utilities to efficiency service organizations and technology firms to not-for-profits, it was a great mix of participants, leading to exciting conversations and ideas.

Here are our top three takeaways from the conference:

  1. Connecting

    Our conference was the first large in-person event in a long time for many attendees. There was a genuine sense of excitement about being together in the same room, instead of a virtual meeting like many are now used to. There were countless opportunities for networking; some attendees met for the first time, while others had the chance to reconnect and catch up after years apart.

    Beyond the typical exchange of business cards and handshakes, we also saw lots of digital connections made through our conference app and LinkedIn.

    One attendee shared that the first morning of the conference felt like the first day of school, with everyone trying to remember social etiquette after a long break. Those who had first day jitters quickly shook the feeling as they settled into a full agenda of keynotes and breakout sessions.

  1. Learning

    The calibre of presenters and the information they shared was top-notch. Several attendees said the Energizing Efficiency Conference was on par or better than any they’ve attended.

    There was something for everyone, with a full agenda to allow you to tailor your experience to your knowledge and interests. There were two keynotes: The Future of Transportation in Canada by Nino Di Cara, President and Founder, Electric Autonomy Canada, and Energizing Efficiency by Embracing Your Inner Sales Professional by Mark Jewell, President, Selling Energy.

    Throughout the two-day event, knowledgeable experts shared their learnings and perspectives on topics from helping low income homeowners to building code developments, and from First Nations sustainable building projects to managing HVAC systems.

    A common theme throughout the sessions focused on the many reasons for people to care about energy efficiency, including climate change, cost-savings, comfort, productivity, safety and demonstrating environmental leadership. 

    Electric vehicles were also a topic on everyone’s mind, with a Tesla parked in the tradeshow hall and test drives offered to attendees through our EV Test Drive Tour with Plug’n Drive.

  1. Collaborating

    The most thrilling takeaway is the collaboration between everyone at the conference. You could see the “AHA” moments happening throughout the convention centre as individuals came together and recognized how they could work together to fulfill common goals.

    People left sessions feeling inspired and bubbling over with excitement about how to take what they had learned and the connections they had made back to their organizations to be able to help even more New Brunswickers.

    Ideas for projects and research came to light even during the question-and-answer portions of presentations, showing that putting the right people together can result in amazing things.

Tracey Somers, our Conference Lead, was thrilled by the feedback from attendees.

“To be able to offer a first-class conference experience here in New Brunswick makes us incredibly proud,” Tracey said. “Bringing together energy and community leaders to network and learn and ultimately, help New Brunswickers save energy, help the environment and drive our economy, is really what the conference is all about.”

Plans are already underway for the 2023 conference. Connect with us if you have topic or speaker ideas.

 

A special thank you to our conference sponsors:

 

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

 

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Conference App Sponsor

 

New Brunswickers take action to help Beat the Peak

January 21 2022, 10:19 AM

New Brunswickers take action to help Beat the Peak

With extremely cold temperatures across the province last week, we asked everyone to reduce their energy consumption to help New Brunswick Beat the Peak.

And it worked!

Peak electricity demand happens in the morning from 6 until 9, and in the afternoon from 4 until 8, when most families begin and wind down their days.

Thanks to the many customers who made small changes to reduce or delay energy use during peak demand periods, we reduced the need to use the most carbon-based energy to power New Brunswick during the cold snap.

Here’s how high in-province demand peaked last week:

January 11, 8-9 a.m. - 3,028 megawatts (MW)

January 11, 6-7 p.m. - 2,936 MW

January 12, 8-9 a.m. - 3,177 MW (second highest demand of all-time!)

The record for peak electricity demand in New Brunswick happened in January 2004, at 3,326 MW in the morning. For comparison, we only need about 1,500 MW to meet the needs of customers on a typical summer morning.

It’s our job to meet New Brunswickers’ energy needs all year-long and we had an opportunity to reduce the need for the most expensive energy. It was important for us to do our part, so early last week, many of our employees took steps to be ready for the peak periods.

  • Teams identified and implemented energy savings at NB Power generating stations and offices to reduce our own consumption. These actions included lowering temperatures in unoccupied spaces and delaying the operation of some of our equipment in our plants.
  • Generation employees readied and tested our reserve combustion turbine energy sources at Millbank, Ste. Rose and Grand Manan so they’d be ready if needed.
  • We dispatched our Peak Rebate Program, where 50 commercial and industrial customers who have signed up to work with us on peak demand through the winter months take action to reduce energy use for two-hour periods.
  • Our Key Account Specialists reached out to dozens of business customers who represent much of the energy use in the province. Most business owners and managers said that they appreciated the heads up and chance to make changes that would help them manage energy costs as well.
  • We partnered with municipal electric utilities in the province, including Saint John Energy who issued its own Shave the Peak alerts for their customers.
  • We shared information with New Brunswickers on social media, by email and on local radio stations to encourage everyone to join the effort.

Jean Marc Landry, NB Power’s Chief Customer Officer, is energized by New Brunswickers’ enthusiasm and interest in beating the peak. Many energy companies engage customers to help manage peak demand events in North America.

“It was great to hear how receptive our business customers were to making adjustments to their operations for a couple of days,” said Jean Marc. “They recognized that saving energy would not only help the province, but their bottom lines.”

Since this was the first time in years that NB Power asked customers to help Beat the Peak for specific dates, there were lots of discussions and questions.

“We recognize that this is a difficult time for many New Brunswickers, especially with so many working and learning from home,” said Jean Marc. “Thank you to all customers who made a small change to their routines to help lower overall demand of electricity during the morning and early evening periods. Together, we were able to avoid using the most expensive and least environmentally sustainable energy sources, which benefits the whole province.”

Thankfully, cold snaps like the one experienced last week are temporary, and so are our requests for New Brunswickers to use less power. But saving energy is always a good thing to do, for managing your power bill and helping the environment.

Thank you, New Brunswick!

What about Electric Vehicles?

On social media, we received lots of questions and comments about how Beat the Peak efforts would affect electric vehicles (EVs).

Most electric vehicle owners charge at home in the overnight hours, which has minimal impact on the morning and afternoon peak electricity periods. Electric vehicles also allow owners to schedule when they charge (to avoid peak periods) – the same way you might schedule a dishwasher to run on a 4-hour delay.

In the future, EV batteries will likely be a key part of our smart grid because they could be used as a source of power during times like these or during power outages.

 

Recognizing Jennifer Lennox' leadership in the nuclear industry

December 15 2021, 12:07 PM

Recognizing Jennifer Lennox' leadership in the nuclear industry

NB Power is proud to own and operate Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant. Our employees at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station (PLNGS) work hard every day to produce safe, reliable, and clean power for New Brunswickers.

In October 2021, Jennifer Lennox was named Chief Nuclear Engineer at PLNGS, making her the first female Chief Nuclear Engineer for an operating utility in Canadian nuclear industry history. Being a Chief Nuclear Engineer is an integral role in ensuring the safe operation of the Station within the limits and conditions of its design and operating licence.

Jennifer’s career has prepared her for this role. Prior to joining NB Power in 2009, she was employed as a research Engineer at the Center for Nuclear Engineer Research following completion of her master’s degree in Chemical Engineering focused on Nuclear at the University of New Brunswick. At PLNGS, she has held the positions of Manager of Reactor Safety and Manager of Systems Engineering in addition to various positions within Programs Engineering and Engineering Training throughout her career.

For Jennifer, stepping into a leadership role was an easy decision – she thrives on seeing others succeed, providing coaching and helping her colleagues reach their full potential. As a leader, she contributes to PLNGS’ success by being a mentor, removing barriers to success for her team and working collaboratively with industry peers to identify and share best practices. The New Brunswick culture of helping and learning from others is also a big part of Jennifer’s leadership philosophy.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Jennifer recognizes the challenges that females can face when starting their careers in nuclear. Diversity and inclusion in the nuclear industry is important – it highlights different perspectives and brings balance to teams.

Her advice to young professionals is simple “Build relationships with your peers, get involved in industry-wide initiatives, and embrace opportunities to teach and learn from each other."  A key initiative supporting the advancement of women in the nuclear industry is WiN (Women in Nuclear). WiN is a worldwide association of women working professionally in various fields of nuclear energy and radiation applications.

When she isn’t wearing her Chief Nuclear Engineer hat, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her 14-year-old daughter Emma, a competitive dancer, at the dance studio. She also takes care of two furry friends Lola and Macy and is looking to add a third dog to her family before the Holidays.  

Congratulations, Jennifer, and thank you!

Bears thriving a decade after rescue by NB Power employees

November 24 2021, 11:06 AM

Bears thriving a decade after rescue by NB Power employees

Lucy and Desi live a pretty comfortable life at the Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton. The black bear siblings have a great enclosure and a steady source of food served to them daily. Like the other animals at the zoo, they receive great care from a dedicated team of professionals.

They lucked out.

Ten years ago, a terrible hunting incident led to deaths of their mother and sibling. The tiny cubs were stuck on top of a power line structure in Allardville, terrified and clinging to safety.

On April 10, 2011, NB Power received a call from the Department of Natural Resources, asking for help rescuing the cubs. Line workers James Doucet and Bruce White (who has since retired) jumped into action.

James still works in the Bathurst area as a Lead Powerline Technician and vividly remembers that day.

“Bruce and I were on call that weekend,” he said. “We sure weren’t expecting to be part of a rescue mission! We drove to the location and realized we needed a bigger truck. We came back with a double bucket truck and went up to help the bears. The cub that had been hanging on was easy to keep hold of as she melted into Bruce’s arms. The other one was a bit more feisty and harder to get down to safety!”

The Department of Natural Resources transported the cubs to the Magnetic Hill Zoo to be with a team of animal care professionals.

Tiffany Bateman is an Animal Care Supervisor at the zoo. She was part of the team that helped with the cubs when they arrived a decade ago.

“When I first saw them, Lucy and Desi were about the size of a loaf of bread,” she said. “It was an incredible experience to bottle feed the cubs and see them gain strength and grow into adolescent bears. They were curious, mischievous and adorable.”

As they grew into toddlers, the bears also became incredibly messy.

“We’d blend up a mix of baby food, puppy chow, cottage cheese and other items into a slurry,” said Tiffany. “In those early months, feeding time was like watching human toddlers eat spaghetti with their hands!”

The newest zoo residents received a lot of attention, and many families came to see them in an indoor enclosure for an up-close experience.

Lucy and Desi adapted well to the zoo environment and transitioned into an outdoor bear enclosure the next year. There they met 18-year-old bear Gary, who was happy to have the youngsters around.

“He was a great friend and teacher to the cubs and their energy gave him a new lease on life,” said Tiffany. “Sadly, Gary passed away last summer. Now Lucy is the dominant one – she definitely makes it known that she’s in charge. Desi is more playful and curious.”

In case you’re wondering, Lucy and Desi don’t hibernate like bears in the wild. They have different diets depending on the time of year and are quieter and chubbier during the winter months. This means they’re often visible during winter zoo visits.

Next time you visit the Magnetic Hill Zoo, be sure to say hi to Lucy and Desi for us!

 


From left; Lucy, Gary and Desi.

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