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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

 

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.

National Lineworker Appreciation Day

July 9 2021, 10:00 AM

National Lineworker Appreciation Day

Did you know that July 10 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day? In 2019, utilities and organizations across Canada united in celebration for the first-ever Lineworker Appreciation Day.

Lineworkers are heroes in our books. These dedicated men and women are part of communities in every corner of New Brunswick. They work hard to keep customers connected, often facing challenging conditions and safety hazards. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve continued to provide safe and reliable service for our customers.  

To celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day, we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Messer, an apprentice lineworker in the St. Stephen area.

Tyler grew up a proud “country boy” in the village of McAdam. As a high school student, he wasn’t sure what type of career he’d like to pursue. That all changed in 2014, when post-tropical storm Arthur battered the Maritimes and caused about 150,000 customers to lose power in New Brunswick – including his community.

“I always knew that I wanted a hands-on job that allowed me to work outside,” Tyler said. “I saw lineworkers in my town cleaning up from the storm and rebuilding powerlines, I thought – wow, I would love to do that.”

Tyler’s final semester of high school included a co-op placement with NB Power at the St. Stephen District Office. He spent one day per week in the field with a crew, getting to see first-hand what the job was all about. It didn’t take long for him to decide that he wanted to be a lineworker, too.

After graduating from McAdam High School, he enrolled in the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) Powerline Technician program. This education involves both classroom and on-the-job training prior to graduation, and a phased block approach leading to a Red Seal designation.

Tyler was hired by NB Power as an apprentice in 2020, around the time the pandemic began. Once it was safe to do so, he did his orientation and started working with the St. Stephen team. For the past year, Tyler has been working alongside senior, experienced lineworkers. Throughout his education and work experience, safety has always been the main focus.

“The work itself is complex and very physical,” said Tyler. “It requires teamwork, problem-solving and thinking outside the box. But safety is by far the most important factor. Nothing matters than keeping everyone safe – our customers, co-workers and myself.”

Tyler says the variety of what the job entails makes every day an adventure. Helping with large-scale outages and storm response is especially rewarding.

“This is not a 9-5 job. You need to able to put your life on pause to help others,” he said. “Driving on back roads at 2 AM in winter conditions, looking out for moose and bears is a whole other experience. We never know what we’re going to be up against, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. The pride you feel when you get a customer’s power back on, it’s a rush!”

Tyler is currently working to obtain enough hours for his third block, which will involve more classroom training and testing, followed by his application for a Red Seal Certificate. He attributes the success of his first year at NB Power to his mentors and colleagues.

“The folks I get to work with are out of this world,” said Tyler. “They have been so welcoming and helpful and are always willing to answer my questions and coach me. They’re instilling in me the habits and values to have a long and safe career. Being such a close-knit group, they’re also very supportive beyond work matters, with advice on things like buying my first house. It’s a good feeling knowing they’ve got my back and are rooting for me to succeed.”

The kindness and appreciation customers show Tyler and his team inspire him to be the best he can be.

“I love chatting with people when we’re working around their home or business. Understanding the impact our work can have on their lives is what keeps me going. The icing on the cake is seeing my little niece jump up and down with pride to see ‘Uncle Tyler’ in the big truck,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than driving through my hometown, knowing I’m there to help my friends and neighbours.”

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