Jossee by the lake

Meet OFNTSC Operator-In-Training, Josee Street

Today on International Women's Day, we're highlighting even more young inspirational women who are paving the way for women in STEM here at OFNTSC.

Check out the interview below Josee Street, and be sure to follow @OFNTSC on social media to meet some of our other incredible team members!

Q: As a young woman working in a STEM field, what would you say inspired you to pursue the career you're in right now? 

Growing up I had very little connection to my culture and when I was exposed to teachings (mostly through the Wabano Center and the Ottawa Inuit Children's Center, both in Ottawa), the programs were nature-based. I was always outside learning about ecology and the Creation stories that came with them. Although learning later in high school about the harsh past that Canada put my family through, I didn't run away from it. I wanted answers and I wanted to help. All of the trauma healing that I did always led me back to nature and as a woman I have an instinctual need to mother and take care of things around me. I thought 'How can I use my passion and where will it best be utilized?'. That's when, in college, I thrived and found peace within the STEM field. I was able to get hands-on (which is how I learn best) and reconnect with the land.

Q: Do you think it's important for women to pursue a career in STEM fields and why? 

Yes of course! Diversity in every field should be a priority. Men, women, and two-spirited people have such a beautiful and complimentary balance. Let's take a lesson from nature directly; diverse ecosystems have greater resiliency to external adverse factors. When we promote women to join the STEM field, we bring in balance, stability, feminine knowledge, new perspectives, a nurturing presence, and divine power. Women are better empathizers than men and that is a driving factor for myself and many of my female friends pursuing a STEM career; we care deeply about the world around us and can feel the hurt that Shkaakaamikwe (Mother Nature) is going through right now. Western society has had a focus on having a good economy at all costs but there is a shift to include environmental sustainability to support the well-being of future generations - that's where I think women can thrive and find our balance again. 

Q: What do you love the most about your chosen career? 

I am naturally a very creative person and love to incorporate that into the technical side of this field. I understand the important role that OFNTSC plays when it comes to ending long-term boil water advisories and assisting communities, but I also see the art of working with water and how to make it brighter. Our people have suffered tremendously and when I meet First Nations that are on their healing journey, they are full of laughter, humor, and so much love. I am always inspired by our people's way of making life so joyful and fun to live. It was a lesson I learned from my Dad who was always so young at heart. So to sum up, I love most that I get to take these black and white textbooks and breathe the colourful Indigenous life into them. There are so many creative water projects that I've worked on recently and I still see so much potential moving forward.

Q: How do you incorporate Traditional Indigenous or Ecological Knowledge into your work? 

When it comes to incorporating Indigenous knowledge into the technical side of my work, I don't see the need to as most treatment processes are adequate to produce clean water. There is lots of room for cultural knowledge in the education side of things. Most people don't know the accurate overview of the situation some of these facilities face and so it can be difficult for someone who is wanting to join the STEM field to see where they want to help or fit in. There is also a huge gap in community involvement and not just on First Nations lands. But by focusing on Traditional Knowledge, we can generate interest by reviving our teachings of reciprocity and respect for the land. Ceremonies and practices that remind us of how intertwined we are with nature assist in building smart, passionate, and involved community members. 

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self? 

I've pondered this question quite a bit and the simple answer is nothing. My experiences happened at the right moments and in my mental capacity, I was able to receive those lessons. But having younger siblings I do try to be an earworm about some things which are: 1) We've created everything we see around us, do not be afraid to create an environment and opportunities that work for you. 2) Learn about intuition and how to listen to your spirit, sometimes it goes against everything you thought you needed and it is a beautiful thing to lead with your heart. 3) Life goes by too fast but you have the power to slow it down with the skill of being present