The latest news and updates on our programs.
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.
Highlights from Graduation Day
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!
Learning on the land: Enviro Week at Elliot Lake
This September, interns in the North Shore Tribal Council Drinking Water Internship 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 a 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 chance to see career paths beyond water treatment and reinforces a connection to water.
Shoal improvements to support walleye spawning
Earlier this fall, Nathalie Mathias, Long Point First Nation (LPFN) Fish Habitat Restoration Coordinator, and her daughter, Kayla Mathias, worked on a project with Water First to enhance three walleye spawning shoals in the LPFN area. At one location near a dam on Lac Simard, Nathalie and Kayla moved well over 10 metric tonnes of rock three times – from the source pit to the truck, then to the dam site, and finally to lay the shoal.
In total, three shoals were enhanced and restored as part of the project, making up about 90 m² of optimal walleye spawning habitat. Walleye (also known as pickerel) are an important part of the biodiversity in local waters, and shoal enhancement projects like this help to strengthen their populations. In addition, communities that partner with Water First on projects like this build up their capacity to monitor fish habitats and other markers of water health into the future.
In the spring, Water First staff will return to the site to do some monitoring to spot spawning fish, make a presentation about the project to the community and install a commemorative sign.
Students gain high school credits through summertime learning
In late August 2022, our Schools Program team wrapped up its second year of delivering the Summer Credit Program. Students took part in a multi-week, land-based, experiential learning program full of fun, hands-on water science activities through which participants can earn high school credits like Geography or Science.
The program was delivered in Beausoleil First Nation last year and again this summer, and for the first time with students from Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, based out of Cape Croker Park in Nawash.
While the main objective is for students to earn high school credits, Water First delivers the program in a way that deeply integrates Indigenous culture: learning on the land, working with water and fish, and learning from Elders, Knowledge Keepers, local lands and waters organizations and community programs. The programs are project-based, so students can take pride in contributing to their community’s growth. Students also gain foundational knowledge to prepare for jobs, careers or other opportunities in water.
In this blog post, Tanya from the Schools Program shares her experience of the three-week Summer Credit Program at Cape Croker Park in the community of Nawash, a partnership with the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board.
Partnerships in Action: Our 2022 Annual Report
Water First works to support Indigenous communities in addressing local water challenges to ensure safe, clean water for the long term. And it’s only through meaningful partnerships that this work is possible – partnerships with communities, donors, funders, staff and other organizations and individuals who share our goals. In our latest Annual Report, we acknowledge and celebrate those partnerships. We invite you to enjoy some highlights of all that we have achieved together over the past year.
Read inspiring stories from the next generation of water scientists in the 2022 Annual Report.
Your input means a lot!
As a friend of Water First, please consider responding to this quick survey about how Water First communicates and shares information. It should take you less than five minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for your time!