Meet Nico Suggashie: Poplar Hill First Nation Water Plant Operator - Keeping Canada Safe - CBC-TV
Meet Nico Suggashie: Poplar Hill First Nation Water Plant Operator
Meet Nico Suggashie: Poplar Hill First Nation Water Plant Operator

What personality traits are best suited to your job?

Being honest, confident, and decisive are among the personality traits that are best suited to being a water plant operator. An operator needs these traits to gain the trust and confidence of those they protect from bad water.

How does your career create value in your life? (besides a paycheque!)

In my career, people are depending on me for their safety. It is a big responsibility and I understand that people had doubts when I first started. But the people were patient and understanding, and now they trust me to keep their water safe and pleasant to drink, and that creates a lot of value in my life.

"They trust me to keep their water safe and pleasant to drink, and that creates a lot of value in my life."

What is the biggest motivator for you?

My biggest motivator is being a positive role model for the people I keep safe from bad water. These are people I have known for most of my life and people who will know me for most of theirs. I really hope I am inspiring them to become as enthusiastic to pursue what creates value in their lives.

Describe your best day on the job.

My best day on the job is not having many calls for the delivery of treated water or the collection of wastewater while on duty to do such. On that day, I can drink cups of coffee as I wait for a call but also be on standby for those on maintenance duty so I am not just sitting around all day. The job I had before this one had me sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen all day, five days a week. Oh — the headaches! This job keeps me quite active. I’ve had a couple of those best days, and they were good.

What was your hardest day on the job?

My hardest day on the job is having many calls for the delivery of treated water or the collection of wastewater while on duty. On those days, I’m performing the same actions over and over again for the entire day.

Before I started this job, I knew that big, heavy trucks were used to deliver water and collect wastewater. So when I started, I knew ice and mud would make driving dangerous, but I had forgotten about slush, and that is the worst! I have had more than a few of those hardest days and they are difficult.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned by doing this work?

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned doing this work is that honesty is powerful. I understand people doubted me when I first started this job, but I am honest with my explanations and answers. If the water is potentially not safe to drink, I will tell you so or if I do not yet know or understand something, I will tell you so. The people trust me because I am honest.

Another important lesson I’ve learned doing this work is that there really is no “I” in team. I enjoy solitude, but when it comes to keeping Poplar Hill’s water safe and pleasant to drink, I need my co-workers’ help!

What is the proudest moment of your career?

Every time I’m able to tell people the water is safe to drink is a proud, PROUD moment of my career. Doubly so if it tastes pleasant!

Do your co-workers have a nickname for you? How did you earn it?

The only nickname my co-workers have for me, that I know of, is Ajidamoo. That is Ojibwe for “Squirrel” and my grandma started calling me that as a child because I would supposedly run around in her basement.

"Every time I’m able to tell people the water is safe to drink is a proud, PROUD moment of my career. Doubly so if it tastes pleasant!"

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this job?

If you’re just starting out in this job, ask for help!  You can never be too careful when keeping Canada safe.

Who is/was your biggest inspiration in life?

My biggest inspiration in life is Satoru Iwata. His motivator for being the president of Nintendo for thirteen years was that of a gamer: What can be done to keep gaming fun? His expertise in programming allowed players of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver to explore another whole region to collect more badges and catch the rest of ‘em! I hope to be as dedicated to and knowledgeable for my job as he was in his.

Just for fun: What’s your favourite book or movie? Why?

My favourite book is The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. I love the way it is written; the way it sounds to read.

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