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Drinking Water Internship Program

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Charting new waters with the Drinking Water Internship Program

Drinking Water Internship Program   |   Summer 2023

New Drinking Water Internship collaboration with Ogemawahj Tribal Council

Water First is excited to announce a new Drinking Water Internship program with Ogemawahj Tribal Council (OTC)! This new internship launched this week, and interns from Rama First Nation, Beausoleil First Nation, Mississaugas of Scugog Island and Alderville First Nation have already started digging into their training. Over the course of this 15-month program, interns will accumulate more than 2,000 hours of on-the-job training in water treatment plants as they prepare to take certification exams. The certifications – Operator in Training (OIT), Entry Level Course (ELC), and Water Quality Analyst (WQA) – can lead to work in drinking water treatment.

One highlight from the first week was a tour of the Rama First Nation water treatment plant. With guidance from the Operator in Charge, interns got an introduction to what working in a water treatment plant is all about. They have a full program ahead of them, so stay tuned for more updates to come!

Mentors making a difference in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation

Elijah Toulouse, from Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, is an intern in the current Drinking Water Internship Program, a partnership with Mamaweswen, the North Shore Tribal Council. Throughout the internship, Elijah and the other interns work at a local water treatment plant to gain valuable experience and hours to become certified water treatment plant operators. 

In these facilities, the interns work alongside the community’s current water treatment plant operators and learn from their experience. Having a supervisor who is eager to support the interns and show them the ropes is essential to ensure the interns get the most out of the 15 months, and ultimately supports greater local capacity to manage the facility.

Kayla Abitong is the water operator at Sagamok Anishnawbek’s local facility and has been Elijah’s supervisor during the program. During a recent visit to the community, Kayla – who has been incredibly supportive of the program and of Elijah – shared her thoughts on what it means to have an intern like Elijah working at the plant with her.

Our experience has been great. Elijah's been a big help and a big support for our community. Not only is he learning about our water system, but the extra help with some of the jobs and projects that we are experiencing in the past year are needed. I enjoy having the extra set of hands.

After graduation later this year, Elijah will be trained, qualified, and with a bright future ahead of him in the water sciences.

Interns rise to the challenge of the WQA exam

A Water Quality Analyst (WQA) plays a critical role in testing water quality in a water system and ensuring the water is safe. For interns in the North Shore Tribal Council internship program, working towards WQA certification is a major milestone on the path to a career in water science.

The two-week WQA Workshop, hosted and facilitated by members of the Water First team earlier this spring, gave the interns a deep dive into this critical aspect of water safety. From the fundamentals of water science and chemistry math, to understanding disinfection methods and water legislation, the interns worked non-stop – except for a few breaks for pizza and a cookie challenge. 

The best part of these two intense weeks? 87% of the interns passed the exam! This is the highest pass rate to date since the start of the WQA workshops. Congratulations to the interns and the training facilitators for this achievement!

Graduates and interns connect at a special alumni networking event

Earlier this spring, staff from Water First attended the annual Aboriginal Water and Wastewater Association of Ontario (AWWAO) training conference and trade show in Rama First Nation. The team had the opportunity to talk with attendees about the importance of skilled people for providing safe water. It’s always incredible to connect with individuals who share our vision.

At the conference, we also celebrated the launch of an enhanced Alumni Network for graduates of the Drinking Water Internship Program! Graduates and current interns from the area joined us for a special networking event. We shared details about the new online Alumni Network platform, which will give graduates a place to stay connected and access ongoing supports such as educational opportunities and funding, and cheer each other on their journeys into the water sciences.

North Shore interns gearing up for graduation this fall

Interns in the North Shore Tribal Council internship program are in the final stretch of the program! After more than a year of on-the-job training, career exploration, hard work and exams, the interns are eagerly awaiting graduation at the end of September. Stay tuned for more details to come about how we’ll be celebrating their achievements.

Thank you for supporting Drinking Water interns on their path to careers in water science!

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Alumni graduate Amy Waboose working in her community drinking water treatment plant.