Welcome to Aboriginal Access to Engineering, Queen's University

Brendan Montour

Nation: 
Mohawk - Kahnawake
Degree: 
B. Eng. in Mechanical Engineering
Job title: 
Director of Public Works

Type(s) of Engineering:

Mechanical
Favourite thing: 

"Learning to work with different people."

Brendan Montour always knew he would do something technical in life, because his fascination with mechanical devices began when he was very young, "It started with bicycles and snowmobiles, then I moved onto motorcycles and cars." He learned to fix things by taking them apart and putting them back together.

The skills he developed helped to get him summer jobs. At 18, he was an instrument technician for the concrete work in the building of Kahnawake's sports complex. The following year, he did land surveying for pipe installation. These jobs lead him to study engineering at Concordia and, eventually to his current job as the Director for Public Works in Kahnawake.

Brendan graduated from Concordia in 1997. "I like to be challenged," he says, "And with the workload in university, there were plenty of challenges." Two of the hardest were " being able to get all the work done on time and lack of sleep." He got through it by adopting the philosophy that it was better to hand in a good paper on time, than a perfect one a week late. This lesson has led him to encourage students to strive for perfection but to balance it with flexibility so they can deal with the bumps on the road.

As the Director of the Public Works, Brendan is responsible for eight departments - three of which are connected to transportation: the Roads Department, Highway Maintenance and School Bus Transportation. As such, he has to ensure that all local roads and transportation systems are safe and maintained which takes "a lot of planning and reviewing of maintenance practices." The main tasks of the Roads Department are the snow removal in the winter and grass cutting along roads in the summer. Kahnawake recently took over the maintenance on the highways which run through the community from the Quebec Ministry of Transport, which meant hiring more people and purchasing more equipment.

Brendan is glad he went into the sciences because he says, "Science gives you a greater understanding of the natural world." But he knows science may not be for everyone, so he tells students to "decide what is best for you." Still, he believes that a post-secondary education "opens the way to meaningful employment" through which you can "help your community by adding to the local pool of expertise."

In his own time, Brendan really enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors. He also races his dirt bike with his brothers in the FMSQ series and likes to hunt and fish.

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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