Indigenous communities around Canada turn to the diverse team at Narratives Inc. to help them navigate the project-planning landscape, and Narratives turns to ECO Canada to help navigate the funding landscape.
At a young age, Heather Webb of Manitoba already has her dream job. As an Environmental Planner at Narratives Inc., she’s able to apply her skills and experience in a way that makes a quantitative difference to Canadian Indigenous communities and in the Canadian environmental landscape. “I’m doing exactly the work that always imagined I’d be doing,” Webb says. “I’m working with Indigenous nations every day, building relationships with really incredible people and Elders. Every project we do is different, and they all excite me in different ways. It’s where I’m meant to be.”
To get to where she is today, Webb was diligent in following an educational and skills-building path that focused on environmental and Indigenous studies. She took advantage of her school’s co-op work placement program, got her Environmental Professional in-training (EPt) designation, and kept abreast of job-funding and wage subsidy programs. Throughout this process, she kept crossing paths with ECO Canada, the steward for Canada’s environmental professionals across all industries. Webb’s position at Narratives was subsidized through ECO Canada’s Science Horizons Youth Internship program, funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“The Science Horizons Youth Internship program is integral to our mission at ECO Canada, which is to champion the end-to-end career of environmental professionals,” says ECO Canada’s President and CEO, Kevin Nilsen. “We need to be able to fill the talent pipeline with graduates who have the skills to help the environmental and clean technology sectors thrive in Canada.”
I’m working with Indigenous nations every day, building relationships with really incredible people and Elders. Every project we do is different, and they all excite me in different ways. It’s where I’m meant to be.
Diverse voices for a stronger environmental industry
Somia Sadiq, the Founder and Principal Partner of Narratives Inc., has a rich personal perspective on the potential for wage subsidy programs like this one to not only promote the development of environmental professionals, but also to promote equality of opportunity for young women, BIPOC individuals, and new Canadians. “I came to Canada as an international student,” Sadiq says. “I wore a hijab for the first few years that I was here, so I’ve definitely experienced firsthand how much more difficult it can be to be a part of the workforce when you face discrimination. I deeply appreciate ECO Canada’s wage subsidy programs, especially during the pandemic. They have done so much for small businesses, and we can’t be grateful enough.”
Programs like this one have helped Sadiq grow Narratives from a one-woman operation in 2017 to a diverse team of 15 in 2021 that brings a fresh STEM perspective to project planning in Indigenous communities across the country. The projects they’re working on currently include efforts in the documentation of the residential school system and the continued search for unmarked graves. Sadiq, Webb, and the rest of the team are deeply proud of their work and honoured to be a part of ongoing reconciliation.
“I’m really glad to be a part of that process and that these Elders who we’re so close with are trusting us to help share their stories,” says Webb. “I’m always excited about the unknown project we’re going to work on next and how we’re going to approach it with our awesome team.”
ECO Canada would like to thank their funders for making these programs possible.