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Drinking Water Internship Program

Drinking Water Internship Program

Drinking Water Internship Program

  • 4 min read


Program Update | Fall 2022

Celebrating the Graduates of the Georgian Bay Drinking Water Internship

On September 23, 2022, community and family members, Water First staff and other supporters joined together to celebrate the next generation of Indigenous water treatment plant operators as they graduated from the Drinking Water Internship Program. This program, a partnership with Waabnoong Bemjiwang Association of First Nations, Gezhtoojig Employment & Training Anishinabek Nation and Water First, launched in June 2021 in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario. 

During the 15-month internship 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 (OIT) 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 environmental relevant training like GIS and water sampling which can lead to work in both drinking 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.

Each and every one of the 14 graduates displayed incredible dedication and skill throughout the course of their internship. After weeks of hands-on instruction in treatment plants, or in the environment learning monitoring and sampling techniques, there is no doubt that these impressive young adults will do great things for their communities. Congratulations graduates!

Highlights from Graduation Day, September 23, 2022

Watch this short video to experience some of the graduation excitement!

Understanding the importance of Traditional Knowledge

Before graduation, interns from the Georgian Bay internship spent time in Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island for Traditional Knowledge week. Paige Manitowabi, local coordinator of the Drinking Water Internship Program, organized this opportunity for the interns – who were getting ready to graduate – to understand the importance of learning Traditional Knowledge alongside the western science that is taught in labs and in treatment plants.

The interns spent the week camping by the lake, where they participated in a traditional medicine walk and heard stories about the land and locations they visited. They also set nets and filleted fish for a fish fry, which Alumni from our pilot Internship Program on Manitoulin Island got to enjoy as well.⁠

North Shore Tribal Council interns write their OIT exam

In August, 10 interns in the North Shore Tribal Council (NSTC) Drinking Water Internship Program gathered in Sault Ste. Marie to prepare for and write the Operator-in-Training (OIT) exam, which is the first step to becoming a qualified water operator. With an OIT license, interns can help with their water treatment plants’ operational processes.

 In preparation for the exam, students explored water treatment activities, learned to use tools like colorimeters, turbidity meters and pH probes, and reviewed important terms and definitions.  They wrote the exam on August 19 – six passed and the others are re-writing the exam the week of October 10.

Learning on the land: Enviro Week at Elliot Lake

After writing their exam, NSTC interns got to enjoy Enviro Week, a fun, experiential and active week that’s all about spending time together out on the land, exploring and learning about lakes, rivers and streams. Held at Elliott Lake, Enviro Week gives interns the chance to get familiar with environmental water testing tools, learn about recording the data, and discuss what it all means from a water quality perspective. It also gives interns a glimpse into career paths beyond water treatment and reinforces a connection to water.

Want to see more highlights?

Water First is now on TikTok, where interns and staff share stories about their experiences. 

Thank you for supporting Drinking Water Internship participants on their journey to a bright future!