MNO citizen finds his place in the north

Submitted by Confederation Collegepaul robitaillePaul Robitaille

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Paul Robitaille graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Environmental Science but lacked the hands-on experience that many employers look for when seeking to hire new graduates.

“Unless you’ve gone for engineering or nursing or another applied degree, employers aren’t really knocking on your door,” Paul shared.

With MNO financial support, Paul enrolled in the two-year Forestry Ecosystem Management Technician program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay and since then, the opportunities have gone above and beyond his expectations.

Paul, who is from Midland, loves the forest and was on track to becoming a forestry technician. But several opportunities came his way including working on a college-led bio-energy study in remote First Nation communities, facilitating student engagement for the MNO, and becoming the Confederation Student Union’s Sustainability Ambassador.

Northern Ontario has been a good place for Paul, allowing him to immerse himself in the Thunder Bay community and be involved in ways that will help him in his career.  His experiences in the north made him realize there was still so much more he wanted to learn as a student.

After completing the two-year program, Paul decided to continue his studies instead of leaping into the job market.

“By the time graduation came around, I never really considered getting a job, the opportunities I had over the last two years have just kept snowballing,” he admitted.

Paul has spent much of his spare time volunteering and being a role model for other students.  He proudly became a student counsellor/steward for the MNO and a Youth Representative for the MNO Thunder Bay Métis Council.

At his convocation ceremony, Paul received the 2015 Governor General’s Award, an honour bestowed upon the student who has achieved the highest academic standing at the Confederation College in the final year of a diploma level post-secondary program earning an average of 80 per cent or better.

Thanks to all the opportunities presented to him, Paul has decided to continue his education.  He was accepted into the Masters of Forestry program at Lakehead University.

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