Welcome to Aboriginal Access to Engineering, Queen's University

Deanna Burgart

Nation: 
Cree/Dene - Fond du Lac First Nation
Degree: 
Diploma, Chemical Engineering Technology
B.Eng, Chemical Engineering
Job title: 
President & COO, Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Inc.

Type(s) of Engineering:

Chemical
Favourite thing: 

I love how it is such a dynamic profession and it can be what you make it.

Deanna Burgart found her way to engineering by a combination of family influence and her interest in ensuring employment upon graduation. “I was a single mom and I was doing academic upgrading when my son was 18 months old,” she said. “My dad was in oil and gas and so I was familiar with the industry and so I chose chemical engineering was because it was relatively in high demand and not necessarily limited to oil and gas. To be honest at the time I was looking for something that was in high demand so I could get to work and when I chose it I kinda kept my fingers crossed that I would enjoy it.”

A rare combination, Deanna is both a Certified Engineering Technologist and an engineer. “My passion early on was on the environmental side,” she said. “The year that I graduated from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 2000 was the same year that Erin Brockovich came out, the movie, and it really sparked my passion for the environment and influenced the types of work that I did when I got into industry.”

“I found out early on that I had a unique passion for reading 300 page legislative documents and translating them to the field level. I quickly carved out a bit of a niche in that, because sometimes the regulatory documents can be tough to navigate and they’re constantly changing. So relatively early in my career I became that go-to person in whatever organization I was working for to help the operations groups and help the project groups understand how the changes in regulations needed to impact the way we did things at the ground level. I came to believe that we can make a difference on our environmental performance from the inside.”

Today Deanna is co-owner of an engineering firm, based in Calgary, with a mission to engage Indigenous communities and support the sustainability of the environment. “I just partnered with a fellow engineer to start a consulting company called Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Incorporated,” she said. “We are both indigenous engineers and so we believe we bring a unique perspective to the table. Our backgrounds in industry have both been in the environmental and regulatory realms and so we’ve approached all the work we’ve done throughout our careers through that viewpoint and that’s what we want to start bringing to the forefront and bringing awareness to projects.”

The best part of being an engineering, according to Deanna, is that she can infuse her own passions into the day to day work. “You can combine scientific engineering principles with our passion for the environment and our passion for protecting mother earth and incorporating sustainability into projects,” she said. “That’s where we’re focusing our company as well as we consider ourselves engineering translators now so we’re committed to outreach to communities both to help increase the understanding and empower communities when it comes to understanding projects that they may be consulted on but also outreach to youth to help them consider potential careers that may be in line with their passions.”

 

See also:

'Indigeneers' offer consulting to firms that understand the need to build relationships with indigenous communities (Star Phoenix)

Indigenous engineers bridge culture and profession (Windspeaker)

 

 

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