On July 4th, the latest Water First Internship Program — in partnership with Mamaweswen and the North Shore Tribal Council— was proudly launched! The interns, NSTC members, and Water First staff gathered in Sault Ste. Marie to kick off a weeklong workshop. Ogamauh annag (Sue Chiblow) from Garden River First Nation, who is a member of our Indigenous Advisory Council, started the week with an opening ceremony.
For their first week, interns, community partners and Water First staff were in Batchewana First Nation in Goulais for a water treatment plant tour and participated in a watershed model exercise on a local beach. In the watershed exercise, interns learned about the importance of watershed management and protection. By creating these watershed models, the interns learn concepts like how industry and deforestation impact water quality, how to make decisions on where their source water comes from, and the proper treatments necessary to address issues that impact their watershed.
They also built hands-on water quality assessment skills by learning to use equipment that measures total dissolved solids and conductivity, as well as activities that introduced concepts such as coagulation, flocculation and filtration.
Each day of that week was filled with opportunities to hear from Water First Alumni about their experiences in the Internship, build relationships with each other, explore local water bodies, and participate in a series of exploratory activities related to source water contamination, treatment processes, and math and chemistry for operators.
In the time since the internship began, interns have started working at the water treatment plants in their respective communities. They also took the Small Drinking Water Systems course — and they all passed! The interns are preparing to write their Operator-in-Training (OIT) exam next week.
We’re just getting started — up next for the interns, Enviro Week in September. Congrats to all of the participants for such a great start! We can’t wait to take a deep dive into this journey of providing clean drinking water together- updates to come!