Last Friday, 12 new Indigenous water treatment plant operators graduated from the program offered by Mamaweswen the North Shore Tribal Council and Water First Education and Training in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. They earned certification as operators-in-training after 15 months of the drinking water internship program.
Sustainable access to safe, clean water in Indigenous communities in Canada continues to be a critical issue. The graduates completed the paid training program to obtain entry-level certifications required to begin their careers in water treatment. As qualified, local personnel, they bring technical skills and capacity to communities to ensure access to safe, clean drinking water for the long-term.
Over the course of the program, each intern accumulated 1,800 hours of on-the-job experience in water treatment plants, which is a part of the water operator-in-training certification process. Interns also pursued additional water operator certification exams including water quality analyst and the entry-level course for drinking water operators, as well as other technical training like GIS and water sampling which can lead to work in water treatment and the environmental water field.
Following graduation, interns join the Water First Alumni Network to stay engaged, build local networks and access opportunities for ongoing professional development and peer support.
The North Shore Tribal Council drinking water internship program began in June 2022, and the recent graduation marks the fourth successful internship program completed to date. The program was funded through the North Shore Tribal Council member First Nations employment and training program, together with the support of Water First’s donors. A fifth internship program is underway with Ogemawahj Tribal Council and another internship is soon to be launched for the first time in Manitoba.
Water First has collaborated with 37 First Nations communities through the drinking water internship where interns have worked approximately 98,000 hours in their local water plants. To date, 46 interns have graduated from the program.
Learn more about the program on www.WaterFirst.ngo.