Get the inside scoop on what our teachers experience on our professional development tours, straight from the source! Careers educator, Vanessa Lewis, recently joined us on our Western Canada Oil Sands Careers Education program and wrote about her experience on the tour.


"Reporting for duty!" Twitter @lewisvan

“Reporting for duty!” Twitter @lewisvan

This was an incredible learning opportunity from my perspective as a Career Development Consultant for the Sun West School Division in Saskatchewan. Heading into this experience, I had some preconceived notions and ideas as to what the oil sands were all about.  During the tour and through interactions
with industry professionals, I learned much about occupations within the
sector, confirmed some beliefs, and dispelled some misconceptions.  

The welcome evening and Day 1 were jam-packed with meaningful activities
and interactions.  I very much appreciate the time and energy people spent in relation to our Oil Sands 101 presentation and our morning sessions at the Sawridge Inn which included a Welcome to Wood Buffalo from Mayor Melissa Blake, a presentation on Living and Working in the North by Kim Pinnock, an Oil Sands and the Economy session by Alberto Benzo, an Economic Outlook
with Jeff Gaulin, and Opportunities Beyond Extraction with Amit Saxena.
This was followed by an incredble afternoon with hosts Leithan Slade and
Ashley MacDougall from Syncrude as we toured the corporate office and mining operation followed by an outdoor Careers in Reclamation session with Sabrina Pelley and friends from Suncor.  We spent the evening watching the election results and cheering for the Jays while engaging in meaningful career-related discussions with educators from across Western Canada.  

Day 2 involved a bus tour to Conklin at which we toured Devon Jackfish and learned about In-Situ Developments.  I definitely did not envision the camp to be as remarkable as it was.  In hearing stories from employees, it seems like a ‘home-away-from-home’ for many of the workers.  I had an good idea as to the trade type jobs that would be needed in this type of industry, but was surprised by all the other occupations necessary to run the business – much like running an entire community!  Sleeping at the Civeo Camp was a great way to end the day…a unique experience.

Day 3 involved travel to Lac La Biche with fantastic PD Sessions with a number of presenters as well as a wrap up by Inside Education.  It was difficult to say ‘farewell’.

I experienced many ‘a-ha’ moments; especially in relation to consideration for First Nations communities and the sustainability of our environment.

I am now taking some time to determine a way to share my learnings with my team of Career Development Teachers, colleagues within my provincial career association, and with students.   

Vanessa Lewis

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