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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

 

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