Tell us about what you did before coming to TSAG?
Before I came to TSAG, I worked as a sprinkler system installer for 30 years. About 10 years ago, I decided to further my education in fire protection. I am now a certified fire safety codes officer and for the last few years, I worked as a fire alarm technician.
What is your role in the Asset Management program?
As the new Infrastructure Inspector, my job is to conduct inspections on community infrastructure assets such as buildings and fire protections systems. From time to time, I may be helping the Fire Protection team do fire inspections.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people. Everyone at TSAG is very friendly and welcoming. The workplace atmosphere is great. I appreciate that TSAG values and promotes work/life balance and gives you the time and support to deliver high quality service and training. I also enjoy the opportunity to get out of the office and travel to different First Nations and meet new people. I am learning a lot of new skills, and I look forward to the opportunity to take additional training in occupational health and safety.
What do you like to do on your days off?
I am a heavy duty mechanic, so I spend most of my free time repairing and overhauling vehicles, like mud trucks. Four years ago, I started racing mud trucks and on weekends, I attend races all over Alberta and BC. I drive a Ford Bronco mud truck named ‘Double D’. This summer, I competed in the Canada Day Mud Bog hosted at the Central Canada Raceways and won 6th place!
I also like camping. My favourite back country camping spot in Alberta is near Vega in the County of Barrhead. You can’t get any cell service, so it is a great place to spend quality time with the family and enjoy the outdoors. I grew up in Westlock, AB, and I now live on an acreage in Stony Plain with my family.
What is your most memorable vacation spot?
The Cayman Islands. My son, daughter and I are certified open water divers. We did our pool and classroom training here in Edmonton and then travelled to the Cayman Islands to do our open water training. We saw all sorts of marine life like sharks, turtles, fish, and stingrays; it was a spectacular trip!
Three words to describe you.
Happy-go-lucky and honest person!
NEW Fire Services Program Manager
Welcome John McDermott!
Tell us about what you did before coming to TSAG.
Prior to working at TSAG, I started my own consulting firm focusing on protective and emergency services. I have over 16 years of experience in the fire service and EMS field. In the past, I have worked for both volunteer and composite fire departments across Alberta. I am a Level II Fire Investigator, additionally certified as a Fire Investigation Technician (IAAI-FIT) and Safety Codes Officer (SCO).
What brought you to TSAG?
I applied for the job at TSAG because I saw this as an opportunity to use my experience in firefighting, consulting and program development and delivery, but at the same time, make a positive impact on people’s lives. This job has everything I want.
What is your role in the Fire Protection Program?
I am the Fire Services Program Manager for TSAG. I am responsible for day-to-day program operations. I oversee program development and delivery and provide guidance to the Fire Safety Coordinator and Fire Outreach Coordinator.
What do you enjoy most about your job so far?
I have only been on the job for less than two weeks, but what I can say is I really like the prospect of developing our Fire Services Program further and being in a position to provide both direct and indirect support to the communities we serve. I am most excited to work with people on the ground and to learn how to best meet the needs of First Nations in Alberta.
What do you like to do on your days off?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids at our place in Joussard on the Lesser Slave Lake. It is a great place to relax and get away from it all. We also love to travel. I recently returned from sunny Florida. The highlight of the trip by far was the Toronto Blue Jays game in Tampa!
In addition to working full-time at TSAG and owning a business, I am 1st Vice President of the Fire Investigation Association of Alberta and a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators where I sit on the International Training & Education Committee and serve on two sub-committees.
Tell us three things most people don’t know about you.
I ride a cruiser motorcycle
I am a Charter Member of the Red Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club, Alberta Chapter 9, located in Drayton Valley and served as the Club’s very first President
I will be published in the upcoming edition of Fire Investigator: Principles and Practice to NFPA 921 and 1033
What is your favourite quote?
“Train like you Fight.“
Congratulations Don Degenhardt on your retirement!
In July, staff, guests and family gathered at River Cree Resort for Don Degenhardt's retirement party to celebrate his contribution to TSAG, and First Nations for nearly 30 years.
For nine years, Don has served as an ACRS Technical Advisor for TSAG. He played an integral role in the Asset Management program and was instrumental in initiating and leading annual school building inspections. He spearheaded the Preventative Maintenance Program to train school maintenance staff on building systems to enhance educational environments for children, youth and school staff.
We would like to sincerely thank and recognize Don for his service and dedication to TSAG and First Nations in Alberta. He was an invaluable member and asset to our organization and has touched many people's lives in a positive way.
Congratulations Don. We wish you a wonderful retirement!
Thank you to our summer interns!
For several years, TSAG has run the Skills Link Program (funded by INAC) to promote work experience in information and communication technology for First Nations youth (15-30 years old). This year we expanded our work experience program with additional funds from the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC). CMHC’s Housing Initiative for First Nations & Inuit Youth Program assists youth in pursuing long-term employment in the housing sector.
In May, TSAG hired six youth interns - Breanna, Brandon, Caycee, Nicolei, Shayna and Megan - to conduct survey work for the GIS House Base Mapping Project. The purpose of this project is to record and map housing stock data such as legal land descriptions, GPS coordinates and other household assets such as septic tanks and cisterns. The end goal is to provide each Nation with a customized map useful for asset management, emergency response management and land use planning.
All interns took a GIS foundations course with Trevor Wiens from Apropos Information Systems Inc. to learn to how to use handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units and basic map skills, and then were shown the ropes in the field by Larson Yellowbird and Gerald Desjarlais. It took 12 weeks for the team to collect and map housing data for 14 First Nations in Alberta.
This September, we are pleased to announce that Brandon Paul will be continuing to work at TSAG with Gerald and Larson to process all of the data they collected over the summer. He is looking forward to learning more about the map design process!
On behalf of TSAG, we would like to congratulate all of you. Your contribution is fundamental to this project and we thank you for all of your hard work. Have a great school year!
8th Annual Environmental Youth Camp
In August, we hosted our 8th Annual Environmental Youth Camp (EYC) for First Nation students in grades 9-12. The EYC started in 2008 to get students out of the classroom and into nature to learn about their surrounding environment, inspire stewardship and career choices in science and technology, and at the same time, foster a sense of adventure and passion for the outdoors. EYC is FREE for First Nation youth in Alberta and is worth 2 high school credits.
This year, sixteen students between the ages of 14-18 years old and from eight First Nations across Alberta attended the 5-day camp on August 7-12. EYC is hosted at the Centre for Outdoor Education (COE) near Nordegg. Certified outdoor adventure guides took the youth on a Columbia Icefields tour, rock climbing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. Due to heavy rainfall on our climbing day this year, they instead got to hike to Siffleur Falls!
"This was so fun and I will remember this week forever! Thank you."
- Youth Camp Participant
"Hands-on learning works best because I am able to remember what I did."
- Youth Camp Participant
To help fulfill several CTS learning objectives, TSAG invited speakers to share information about their careers and lead hands-on learning activities. John Nelson, Devin Meneen, and Perry MacDonald from TSAG met us at Crescent Falls to talk about jobs in water and wastewater management and all students got to try their own water filtration experiment and turbidity test. Melanie Daniels from Kisik Environmental Services Inc. talked about her career path in biology and environmental management. Laura Machial, TSAG Biologist, talked about woodland caribou, ungulate monitoring and organized an interactive GPS game for the youth at Kootenay Plains. Robin Steenweg from the University of Montana Wildlife Biology Program talked about wildlife monitoring and we got to check out a camera trap he hid in the forest, where we got this great group shot (see photo above). Rosey Radmanovich, TSAG Environmental Liaison, taught us all about bugs and fish that live in Haven Creek and why they are important water quality indicators. We even caught a trout in one of the minnow traps!
"[My favourite activity was] everything! Rafting was a great, everyone was laughing and having a good time!"
- Youth Camp Participant
It was an honour to have Elders Charlie and Karen Abraham from Bighorn and Louise Russell and Bea Sterling from the Aboriginal Resource Centre at our camp. They taught us the importance of the rattle in First Nations culture and ceremony and how to make one. We learned so much from them, particularly one youth participant who said, “we also learned patience in making the rattle.”
“We also learned patience in making the rattle.”
- Youth Camp Participant
On behalf of TSAG, we would like to thank all COE staff, guest speakers, and volunteers for making this camp a rewarding and unforgettable experience for our youth.
For more information about TSAG’s Environmental Youth Camp, contact Emily Skinner at email@example.com or 780.483.8601
Hosted by TSAG and Tsuut'ina Nation Fire Rescue Service
In June, TSAG and Tsuut’ina First Nation Fire Department hosted the 26th Annual Regional Firefighter Competition and Tradeshow at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino. We had over 50 people attend the event this year from across Alberta.
On behalf of TSAG, we would like to first acknowledge and thank everyone for making this event a success and commend Tsuut’ina First Nation Fire Department and Fire Chief, Shawn Polley for organizing and hosting a memorable 2-day occasion.
At the Fire Chiefs & Firefighter meeting on Friday, we heard from a three keynote speakers: Peter Krich from the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association; Tom Harnos from the Office of the Fire Commissioner; and Jim Smith from the Foothills Fire Department, who spoke about three widespread issues: volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention strategies, young firesetter intervention, and fire personnel mental health and PTSD.
Later that day, we gathered at the Tradeshow to network with exhibitors and fire personnel. We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all tradeshow exhibitors and to specially recognize Troy Mutch from FireFox Fire Solutions Inc. for donating over $1,800 worth of prizes, as well as Harris Canada Systems Inc. and BEHR Energy Services Ltd. for their generous prize donations. The tradeshow would not have been possible without you!
Six First Nation fire departments - Maskwacis, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Blood Tribe, Louis Bull Tribe, Bigstone Cree Nation, and Enoch Cree Nation - competed in 5 different evolutions (or event challenges) over the course of the day. At our evening banquet, we were pleased to recognize all teams and award 1st place to Maskwacis Fire Department; 2nd place to Ermineskin Fire Department; and 3rd place to Blood Tribe Fire Department.
We would like to congratulate all teams on your outstanding performance especially Maskwacis Fire Department, who went on to compete at the National Firefighter Competition hosted by the Six Nations of the Grand River on August 13, 2016.
13th TSAG Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser
In June, TSAG hosted our 13th Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser! The event raised more than $20,000 and all proceeds were donated to First Nations affected by the Fort McMurray wildfire. We were fortunate to have sunny, warm weather and like always, all golf participants were rewarded with fantastic prizes.
This fundraiser would not have been possible without in-kind gift certificates and monetary donations from our sponsors and participation from staff, partners and community members. On behalf of TSAG, we would like to sincerely thank you for your ongoing support and hope to see you again next year at the 14th Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser on June 20, 2017. Please save the date and register early!
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