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Water First
How to Be the Safety Line

How to Be the Safety Line

  • 5 min read

How to Be the Safety Line

An Intern's Perspective on the Water First Internship Program

Written by Nick Chapman, Water First Intern from Temagami First Nation.

Young Indigenous adults in Water First’s Drinking Water Internship Program are training to get the greatest results for the environment, learning how to operate in a water treatment plant and eventually becoming a water treatment plant operators.

Water First has developed a close relationship with me and the other interns, who have joined them in the fight for clean drinking water.

Together, we’ve studied how water treatment facilities work, how to filter water in various ways, and have received general training to aid us in the future. We’ve learned about watersheds and water sources, HR policies, water treatment processes, PPE (personal protective equipment) and why it’s used, work health and safety awareness, water quality results, AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) training, community water issues, math and chemistry, and equipment/appliances during the three weeks of virtual training. But there’s way more: we have learned about pipes and valves, wells, how water treatment facilities are placed in an environment, and a whole lot more.

Everyone has their Small Systems Certification accomplished, which made us all extremely excited, and we also have the OIT (Operator-in-Training) Certification. More recently, we wrote our ELC (Entry-Level Course) exams, which happened in November 2021 – everyone passed with flying colours!

Water First Intern: Dyami Tuskin

“I like Water First for all of the training and work opportunities for the First Nations communities.”

“I feel very fortunate to have this amazing opportunity to work with Water First. To better support my community and the protection of clean water for generations to come.”

One of the amazing things that Water Fist has done for the interns was give us a chance to be ourselves, telling stories when we had time, making Jamboards to show our beliefs and goals. That way, even though we were all online, we could feel connected to everyone and not so alone while training. They created a Facebook page and messaging group, so everyone can post pictures, ask questions, talk about what they did at the plants, and overall, to stay connected. Water First interns and instructors have even done some travelling: we’ve gone to Killarney, Sudbury, and we’re working on our own reserves, as well. 

Right now, we are working on Geographic Information System (GIS), learning how to create maps and how to use them correctly. Then, we will be studying for either our Wastewater OIT (Operator-in-Training) Exam or Class 1 Exam. We are all wishing each other good luck!

We have had community members and Elders come in to share their point of view on things, like water treatment plants and water itself. Water First is teaching in different ways, so everyone can learn the way they learn best. Our group of interns and the instructors at Water First have been showing great strength and are constantly proving that we want a better future for our environment and that safe drinking water is the way to go!

“Hello my name is Nick Chapman; I am from Temagami First Nation.

Why I joined this internship was because I just got out of high school and I had no idea what I wanted to do or be, then this internship fell onto my lap out of nowhere and I decided to sign up to give it a try.

Since then, I have loved every minute of it. Working with Water First has been a blessing. I have grown new skills and experiences I’d never thought I would get.

I have taught children at my reserve what Water Treatment Operators are and how water is tested and analyzed. It was amazing seeing my community learning about what I’m trying to be.

My favourite memory Is learning how to be the “Safety Line” as I call it, making sure that everyone gets across the water safely and setting the line-up.

I love how in Water First we are all a team and are working hard to help our First Nation communities.”

A look into the Internship Program:

To learn more about the Drinking Water Internship Program, click here!