A Day in the Life

Meet some of Environment Canada's employees, who are preserving and enhancing the natural environment through day-to-day science to protect the health of all Canadians.


Alicia, Manager, Aquatic Life Research Facility

Alicia, Manager, Aquatic Life Research Facility
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I manage the Aquatic Life Research Facility (ALRF), located in Burlington, Ontario. Researchers use the facility to conduct experiments using all forms of aquatic life and I ensure that water quality, chemistry, and lighting are optimum for the parameters that they need and that all critical equipment is functioning properly in order to produce the highest quality of repeatable results.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have a love for nature and the environment and wanted to do my part in contributing to making the world a better place.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to be a veterinarian or at least work with animals.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Southern Ontario (Cayuga).

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Burlington, Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: It’s something new every day. I am constantly facing new challenges and troubleshooting issues on different systems and equipment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Solving problems that others could not find an answer to and when researchers have successful experiments – it means I’ve done my part in contributing to science that will better our environment!

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Talk to people in the field – get your name out there. If you aren’t already, get into a co-op program for your desired field. Gaining experience in the work place is a great way to network as well as discover if that is truly the path you want to take!


Andrea, Water Quality Scientist

Andrea, Water Quality Scientist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a water quality scientist and recently became the Head of the Freshwater Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Section in the Pacific Ocean Watershed. Our group conducts long-term water quality monitoring to assess the status and trends of important water bodies in Canada. In the Pacific region, we focus our efforts on British Columbia and the Yukon, where we carry out benthic (the lowest level in a body of water) invertebrate sampling to assess ecosystem health in these areas. We also conduct shorter-term surveillance sampling to look at more issue-specific concerns (pesticides and other organic contaminants, mercury, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, etc.).

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: It kind of chose me, actually. I was working on my master’s degree and had an opportunity to work with a university colleague on a contract for Environment Canada. As it happened, they were running a competition for a couple of positions, so I applied and ended up being hired as a “Federal-Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Officer.”

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wasn’t entirely sure, although I always knew it would be something science-related, and probably biology and/or water-related. School field trips that I remember finding really interesting were those involving water and aquatic life: doing a field study in elementary school on pond life (benthic invertebrates, although I didn’t know it at the time) and a couple of field studies on sea life in Bamfield on Vancouver Island.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Vancouver.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Vancouver.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Earlier in my career, it was definitely the field work: travelling all over B.C. and the Yukon, by boat, helicopter, etc., and being involved in all kinds of different environmental studies, collecting a variety of environmental samples (water, groundwater, fish, sediment, benthic invertebrates, etc.). It was really a privilege to be able to visit some of most beautiful and remote areas of B.C. and the Yukon.

Now that I’m mostly behind a desk, the most exciting part of my job is when we assess data and see some kind of trend or environmental impact occurring, which we then investigate to identify the cause, and provide the information to senior management and other agencies that ultimately lead to mitigation of the problem.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: As I already mentioned, it is rewarding when our information can be used to mitigate an environmental problem, or alternately it indicates that there isn’t a problem where we might have expected one.

I work on a lot of national teams, and also find it very rewarding to work with my colleagues from across the country. It’s a great group of people who are really dedicated to the work we do. It is rewarding when we work together to find a solution to an issue and can reach consensus among so many people on ways to optimize our programs nationally and continually try to improve and advance them.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I think they should first decide generally what they’re most interested in, doing technical work, science and research, or policy, and then get an educational background in that area. If they want to get into government specifically, then trying to get a co-op position in their main area of interest is a really good idea. Sometimes there is an option to “bridge” a student into a government position in the longer term. They should try to get as much experience as they can in their field. There are usually quite a few consulting jobs available that help people get lots of background in environmental work.

Beyond work, there are also other ways to make a difference for the environment, for example through volunteer work, becoming a member of a community environmental group in the area or working for non-profit environmental organizations.


Andrew, Wildlife Technician

Andrew, Wildlife Technician
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a Wildlife Technician with the Canadian Wildlife Service, working on ducks and geese. I participate in several banding programs involving waterfowl. This includes spring, pre-hunting season and winter banding of ducks and geese, and resident goose banding. These activities take place at several locations across Atlantic Canada.

I am also involved in various types of aerial surveys, such as the Eastern Canada Waterfowl surveys and the Coastal Sea Duck surveys. These surveys consist of long days in small airplanes or helicopters. I am responsible for data entry and the management of databases. I prepare data queries for other government agencies or our own staff. I participate in the National Harvest Survey, which is conducted each year to examine wing and tail samples submitted by hunters. This information is used to determine population trends in waterfowl numbers, which in turn is used to establish hunter bag limits and seasons. In addition to these regular program activities, I assist other bird programs with their field activities, as needed. I also deal with calls from the Canadian public pertaining to dead or injured birds, nuisance birds and hunting regulations.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?     

A: I chose this field mainly due to my lifelong interest in wildlife, hunting and the outdoors.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: When I was very young, I wanted to be a veterinarian. As a teenager, I decided that I would like to work in the wildlife field.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born and raised in southern New Brunswick.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work out of the Canadian Wildlife Service’s office in Sackville, New Brunswick; however, wildlife surveys take me all over Atlantic Canada.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: I believe in the old saying that “The worst day in the field is still better than the best day in the office.” I like the “hands on” aspect of my work. I love that my job gets me out of the office and surveying on the ground or in helicopters.  

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I find my work in helping to maintain healthy waterfowl populations very rewarding. A healthy waterfowl population would indicate healthy wetlands, which many organisms, including ourselves, depend on. The environment is a complex part of the circle of life.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: My advice to a young person interested in making a difference to the environment would be to follow one’s convictions. Making a difference isn’t necessarily dependent on working for Environment Canada but being committed to one’s self. There are lots of ways that each of us can help the environment in day-to-day life. One just needs to think about it.


Brian, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist

Brian, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a Warning Preparedness Meteorologist (WPM) based in Edmonton for Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service of Canada. 

The role of a WPM is to provide information to the media and Emergency Management Organizations about incoming severe weather, to help them make informed decisions during significant out-of-season weather events and emergency situations.

I assess atmospheric data conditions from the national online alert map and Environment Canada’s Storm Prediction Centre. These tools help me determine when and where local weather may be of extra concern.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: In school, I was strong in the areas of math, physics and chemistry. I then began my field of education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where I studied Physical Geography, Focus Climatology and Meteorology. Following UBC, I completed a one-year program at the University of Alberta, earning a special certificate in Meteorology. These experiences spurred me to pursue a master’s degree in Oceanography and Acoustics from Royal Roads Military College. 

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: As a child, I was fascinated by the weather’s impact on the ocean waters off the west coast of B.C. The interaction of winds and waves held great interest to me, along with trying to understand the effects of elevation on precipitation type. A career in oceanography or meteorology seemed like a good choice.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: British Columbia.        

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Edmonton.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Having over 31 years of field experience, one of the most exciting moments in my career occurred when I was working for the Canadian Navy. Two Canadian navy ships were under threat of a typhoon en route to Japan. Senior Navy officials asked for my advice on the best course of action to minimize risks to ships and their crews. After thoroughly reviewing weather and climatology, I provided the Admiral with two options: to step-up the travel dates or to change the destination port. The Admiral chose to hasten the travel dates, which ultimately kept the crews and ships safe.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: It’s very rewarding to give Canadians early warning about possible weather risks so that they can take the steps they need to keep themselves, their families and their property safe.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: My advice, both personally and professionally, would be to live passionately, create a positive environment and continuously work towards that vision.


Brigitte, Meteorologist

Brigitte, Meteorologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I have been a meteorologist at the Quebec Storm Prediction Centre since 2007. My work consists of preparing public forecasts for Quebec and occasionally issuing severe weather warnings.

When I am not forecasting, I assist in measuring the performance of maritime forecasts. Verifying our forecasts is the best way to detect our weaknesses and thus improve our work.

I am also on the team of apprentice warning preparedness meteorologists. As such, I respond to media calls and work with various emergency measures organizations. In the summer, we conduct field investigations when we suspect that a tornado or microburst may occur.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have always loved science and I am an outdoor enthusiast. Meteorology is a perfect combination of these two interests.

Since I do not like routine, I was also seeking a work environment where I would have several options. For example in meteorology, you can work in the public sector, in aviation or in the media, or you can focus on research, just to name a few.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: When I was younger, I loved watching the sky. I was always outside or glued to a window during a thunderstorm, a snowstorm, a foggy day, or just to look at the shapes of clouds. I tried to understand how all these phenomena developed. I never dreamed that, one day, that would be my job!

Unlike most of my colleagues, I was late in discovering what I wanted to do in life. In school, I enjoyed science, particularly math, but I could not make a career choice. The realization came while I was leafing through a brochure on the various courses available, barely a year before beginning university.

I immediately knew this was my vocation. Even though spaces for training in operational meteorology were limited at that time, I absolutely wanted to try my luck.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born and raised in Montréal, Quebec.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: At the Storm Prediction Centre in Montréal, Quebec.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Being a meteorologist is far from routine work; each weather situation is different and each season brings its own challenges. I like seeing whether my forecast was accurate and whether the system evolved as I had anticipated.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Just being able to understand the weather phenomena around me is a treasure in itself.

Being able to work as part of a team is very rewarding. The experience acquired over the years is a precious major asset in weather forecasting. Every day, I learn a great deal from my more experienced colleagues.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I feel very privileged to have a job that I am passionate about and I wish the same for all young people. Finding what truly interests us is not always easy.

More specifically, for those who would like to become meteorologists, I would recommend that you begin learning about the science of it on your own as soon as possible to give yourself a head start.

Learning computer programming is also an advantage in this field, which is highly dependent on information technology. With this skill, you will be able to help build tools that are used directly in operational meteorology.


Christian, Wildlife Biologist

Christian, Wildilfe Biologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: As a wildlife biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service I manage the regional shorebird monitoring program. One of the larger projects I’m involved in monitors migrant shorebirds on James Bay.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I love birds, birding, and bird conservation. I'm driven to get out of bed to run surveys before dawn; I get excited.

I got here because of luck, timing and planning. I knew that I wanted to be a biologist; I just didn't know exactly where to focus. I was in my undergrad (in biology) and looking for a few weeks to fill between end-of-term and when a position I had lined up was to begin.  I applied for and was accepted as a volunteer with Long Point Bird Observatory's (LPBO) Tree Swallow project. This one-month experience was probably the turning point in my life.  From this brief time, I knew that I wanted to work with birds towards their conservation.

After graduation I took a bird surveying job for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory in the US, then I volunteered for the fall season at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, and the following spring season at LPBO again. Together, these volunteer experiences provided me with the training and experience necessary to run a bird observatory. I was hired at LPBO and worked there for three years before coming to Environment Canada.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: A doctor or a veterinarian. My dream of being an NHL star fizzled around my 9th birthday.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in Montreal.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is in Toronto, but most of my field work is conducted along the southern Great Lakes shorelines, up in the north-western part of Ontario, and along the James Bay coast.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Working in the field.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Working with biologists and research scientists from EC and other agencies such as Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Royal Ontario Museum, and Bird Studies Canada.

Seeing information I have collected, or projects I’ve worked on, affect conservation.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I'd suggest you think a little about what it is that gets you going. What gets you out of bed?

Seek out volunteer opportunities in areas you think might interest you. You will learn pretty quickly whether you enjoy the work or not, and from there you can seek out further opportunities in the same field, or move on and try another option. Field programs are always looking for volunteers.

Formal education will help. A college degree or undergraduate degree will give you the tools to get into most organisations.  A Master’s degree will help you get further.


Erin, Senior Enforcement Officer

Erin, Senior Enforcement Officer
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I'm currently a Senior Enforcement Officer. I enforce pollution legislation that Environment Canada is responsible for. During the past year I have been on assignment with Enforcement Headquarters as a Senior Enforcement Support Officer and Senior Economic Advisor.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have a degree in biology and have always been interested in the environment. I also like working with people and helping others. My job as an enforcement officer has given me the opportunity to help businesses make real changes in their operations in order to operate in a more compliant and sustainable manner.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: When I was very young, I wanted to be a writer or a teacher. As I became more curious about the world, I started thinking more about becoming a biologist. By the end of university I had focused in on ecology because of my appreciation of nature and a desire to protect it. I was lucky enough to have been able to take advantage of a student bridging program and was hired full-time following school by Environment Canada's National Lab for Environmental Testing where I analyzed water samples for contaminants.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I grew up in Brampton, Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is in Burlington, Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: The most exciting part of my job is getting to visit all sorts of different types of businesses all over the province, from pulp and paper mills in northern Ontario, to dry cleaners in downtown Toronto, to hazardous waste trucks coming over the border from the United States.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I really love returning to a business where I'd previously found non-compliance, and discovering that everything is now in order. I really feel like I've done my job.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Talk to as many people as you can who work in the field you're interested in. You will probably find that most people enjoy talking about their work, can give you a good idea of what types of jobs are actually out there, and what sort of education or experience you need. You may even find yourself considering options you hadn't thought of before. I never thought I'd be an enforcement officer, for example. Most of all, always keep an open mind and don't be afraid to try something new.


Gilles, Biologist

Gilles, Biologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a biologist specializing in ornithology. I do many different studies and work on birds, primarily to be more familiar with their ecology, to monitor the growth of their populations, to identify species in decline and the reasons why those species are in difficulty.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I was interested in science and nature at a very young age. For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by wildlife and enjoyed watching shows on this subject, thus I chose this occupation to merge my interests in nature and wildlife.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: As a young child, before I started school, I wanted to drive trains or the subway in Montréal. Then I became fascinated with people who worked in laboratories or in astronomical observatories. Later, when I was about 15 years old, I began to develop an interest in birds. At that time, the Canadian Wildlife Service showed short vignettes on television called “Hinterland Who’s Who.” I found that series so interesting that I wanted to work for the Canadian Wildlife Service and that is what I did.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in Québec City, in the province of Quebec, and still live there. Québec is a very beautiful city.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is in Québec City, near the St. Lawrence River. However, my job has taken me throughout the province to the North Shore, James Bay, Ungava Bay, etc.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: The part of my work that I enjoy the most is when I am in the field conducting bird inventories. It is often hard to get up at 3 a.m., but when we get up that early, we are often rewarded with beautiful observations. Very early in the morning, the sound of birds singing and other noises have a clarity that they lose later in the day when human activity begins and the wind increases. There are several other aspects that I greatly enjoy, such as being able to go into the field with other colleagues, working together and sharing various experiences in nature. I also enjoy analyzing data. It is always exciting to start analyzing data and to discover what we will learn from them.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I find acquiring knowledge about the ecology and trends in bird populations, sharing it with others, and working together to conserve birds and the quality of the environment for future generations very rewarding.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: It has always been a bit harder to find work in the environmental sector compared to other fields. In order to be of interest to potential employers, it is best to be versatile while trying to specialize in a specific area. In addition to environmental knowledge, it is a good idea also to have sound knowledge in related fields (data analysis, geomatics and informatics). At the start of your career, do not hesitate to accept jobs that pay less or even internships, if they are interesting, in order to gain experience. But first and foremost, and regardless of what you choose to do, it is important to be passionate about what you do.


Jean, Migratory Birds Biologist

Jean, Migratory Birds Biologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. My work consists of gathering data on game birds. I conduct inventories in order to identify trends in bird populations. I also capture ducks and geese to band them, which allows us to track their movements and to calculate survival rates. Using this and other information, we meet with hunters and American biologists to discuss regulations for the upcoming migratory bird hunting season. Every decision made takes into account the conservation of these species for future generations. Among other duties, I also speak with the public to inform them of the steps to take to reduce problems caused by the presence of excessive numbers of certain species on their property.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Out of love and passion for nature and animals.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to become a biologist.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Thetford Mines, Quebec.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is located in Quebec City. However, my field work takes me throughout Quebec.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Banding birds is one of the most exciting activities, since we have the chance to handle wild birds and observe them before releasing them.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Knowing that the information being gathered helps maintain game bird populations over the long term and that that information is the basis for discussions among stakeholders for determining the regulation of the migratory bird hunt. Working in nature or speaking during meetings with people who share the same passion is very exciting.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: To become a biologist, you need a university education. Gain experience by taking part in wildlife inventory projects as a student or volunteer.


Jeff, Application Chemist

Jeff, Application Chemist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I’m an application chemist, which means I help develop new ways of analyzing contaminants in the environment.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: The environment has always been important to me and I knew early on that I wanted to do something that would help protect it.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I never really had a specific job in mind. I pursued whatever was interesting and inspiring and worried about the rest later.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Southern Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Burlington, Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Coming up with a new way to solve a problem.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Seeing it put to use.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Think of something that fires your imagination and work hard towards it.


Joanne, Research Scientist

Joanne, Research Scientist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a research scientist who studies the effects of chemicals and mixtures on fish in the lab. I look at whether fish are affected by chemicals when they are exposed, and whether the chemical, effluent or sediment can affect their long-term survival, health and reproduction.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have always been very interested in how different chemicals in the environment interact with organisms and how they (fishes, birds or people) respond to the exposure. Fish are exposed to many chemicals, but only some can have a negative effect on them. Why is that, and how do we predict what happens, and then protect our environment and ourselves? In my work, I try to come up with answers to these questions.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to be an artist or a scientist. I chose science! However, I can still be artistic when preparing data presentations. Before that, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, so I suppose I was always drawn to water.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I grew up in northeast Toronto. My university training took me to Guelph, Ontario, and then to Waterloo, Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work in Burlington, Ontario, at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters. It houses the biggest Environment Canada research lab in the country and has many chemistry and biology labs, where we study fish, mussels, turtles and frogs.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: It is exciting to see the science we do turn into real changes in our country. For example, studies we do on certain chemicals can either allow their safe use or become part of evidence that declare them as limited or banned in Canada.

It is also exciting to be challenged and to continually learn something new. The job is always changing, with new chemicals to work on and new environmental issues to look at; it allows me to grow and learn as a scientist.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: It is disturbing when we see the impacts of certain chemicals or effluent discharges on fish. But the rewarding part comes when we follow the science through. It feels really good when, over time, the pollution is cleaned up by responsible and forward-thinking people and industries. You really feel that you have had a part in making Canada’s rivers and lakes a better habitat for the fish and a healthier environment for future generations of Canadians.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I would say to keep your options open until you determine the right path for you. A broad science, chemistry and math background are needed for this type of work. I would also suggest keeping your eyes open for job opportunities that you may like. Ask yourself why you would or would not like that type of job. It is important to figure out whether you would prefer to do the work in the lab or in the field. Also, understand that planning the experiments, supervising and writing reports on the scientific findings are required. A self-discovery will lead your path in the field of science.


Joëlle, Librarian

Joëlle, Librarian
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a librarian with the Corporate Services Branch. My responsibilities are quite varied. Since I started, every year is different. I assist users, mainly EC employees, with their information needs. On a regular basis, I use literature reviews and information monitoring tools to conduct in-depth research on topics of interest for our researchers. I also provide training and information sessions for our users to teach them how to use our many resources. 

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I wanted a job where I would feel useful and where I could develop an expertise that I could use to help others. I have always been curious and I really like looking for information on a variety of subjects (in university, I first completed a bachelor degree in history). I like customer service and have good organizational skills. I felt I was well suited for a career as a librarian. I began working at EC during my studies in information science. I could not have found anything better. I have always been concerned about environmental issues. For me, working at EC was a way of combining my job with something that interests me and is important to me.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to help save the planet! When I was a teenager, I would pick up all the tree seedlings on my parents’ lawn, and I would put them in pots to give out to members of my family. There are now maples from the South Shore of Montréal growing on the North Shore. For a long time, I also wanted to get involved in international aid efforts to help communities in need.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in Labrador. I spent my early childhood in Fermont, a mining town on the North Shore of Quebec, and I grew up on the South Shore of Montréal.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work in the Environment Canada Library in Montréal.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: I really like sharing my expertise, and I find it motivating to know that the work I do is useful to my colleagues. I am like a miner digging in the ground to find precious materials, and I then share them so that they can be transformed into something useful. It would be difficult to measure the impact on the community as a whole, but I know that the work I do enables my colleagues to prepare reports, make decisions, develop regulations, and work to protect our environment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: The interactions I have with colleagues. I help people working on a wide variety of subjects from various directorates. It is very interesting to discuss what they are doing. Every day, I learn something new.I also share values and common interests with many of them, so what I learn from our discussions, whether while working or eating lunch together, is very rewarding.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I would suggest taking the time to find a career that enables you to match your interests to your competencies and values. When you enjoy your work, it allows for personal growth, and believe me, to work on something that is important to you is very gratifying.


Josée, Wildlife Biologist

Josée, Wildlife Biologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am the Regional Coordinator of the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP) in Quebec Region. The program offers financial assistance for activities and projects aimed at protecting species at risk listed in the Species at Risk Act.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: This type of work creates a link between scientific knowledge associated with species at risk and projects undertaken by groups and individuals for the recovery of these species. My work includes a human element when  I negotiate agreements and monitor projects led  by local organizations that receive funding. My duties include collaborating with other departments that have responsibility and/or expertise related to species at risk.

I appreciate having a job that includes scientific aspects, since I am a biologist, and like the many interactions with program clients and other partner departments, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I enjoyed learning about science, particularly biology. After completing my bachelor’s degree in biology, I had not exactly “had my fill” of education. Since I have always been fascinated by marine biodiversity, I pursued a master’s degree in that area.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in the Centre-du-Québec Region.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work for the Canadian Wildlife Service which is part of the  Environmental Stewardship Branch in the Quebec City office.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: I find it exciting to see the excellent work being done  and the results obtained by non-government organizations, thanks, in part to funding from Environment Canada. I clearly say “in part” because the programs require that these organizations provide a contribution from external partners that is equivalent to the financial assistance received. The many efforts of all these people in various regions unquestionably contribute to the conservation of habitats of species in peril and their recovery.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Finding passionate action oriented people in local groups, working for a common goal, is very rewarding. This is especially the case since the objectives that inspire them and their efforts are aimed at achieving results that will benefit the whole society. The conservation of nature and biodiversity is a collective effort that benefits the entire community.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: It can be very easy to make a difference for the environment by taking part in activities led by non-governmental organizations dedicated to the environment. Activities such as awareness workshops, observation and monitoring of species, or even clean-up and waste removal projects make a difference.

A career in the environmental sector requires a post-secondary or university diploma, preferably in a field of science.


Marc, Development Meteorologist

Marc, Development Meteorologist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a meteorologist-climatologist.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Because this field of science focuses on the environment (atmospheric environment).

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: To understand weather, the atmosphere and the various atmospheric phenomena; to become a researcher.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Montréal, Quebec.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: In the science section of the Meteorological Service of Canada, in Montréal.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: To develop new knowledge; to discover.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Working alongside other scientists with different specialties.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Broaden your knowledge at school. Always be open to learning new things. Believe in what you are doing.


Mark, Environmental Enforcement Officer

Mark, Environmental Enforcement Officer
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am an Environmental Enforcement Officer, part of a team that enforces the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and its associated regulations. We are also cross-designated as fishery officers to enforce the Pollution Prevention Provisions in the Fisheries Act. The majority of my workload includes conducting inspections and investigations. If an investigation showed that charges were warranted, I would lay those charges. Enforcement officers are also designated peace officers under the Criminal Code and have the authority to arrest if necessary in the course of our duties.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have previously worked in the mining, forestry and oilfield sectors of Canada’s natural resources field. While we have come a long way in terms of being kinder to the environment, I have seen areas in the mining, forestry and oilfield sectors where improvements could be made. I wanted to put myself in a position to be able to effect change, not just by suggestions.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I would stare at pictures of my grandfather in his RCMP uniform and think that it would be great to be like him. I guess that led me to law enforcement.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I grew up in Nova Scotia.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work out of Environment Canada’s St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, office. My work takes me out in the field, though, quite frequently to other areas of the province.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: This job has a good balance of being in the field as well as the office. The exciting part is that you never know what the day could end up looking like. I may be conducting an on-site inspection at a facility and then have to respond to a call of a release of an unknown substance a few hours away.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I have always known that taking care of the environment is in everyone’s best interest. I left industry and went back to school in my mid-thirties with the goal of becoming a conservation or environmental enforcement officer who could make a positive change in the environment. I feel very fortunate to have accomplished the first part of that goal, and I am working every day on the second part.

The laws which I enforce are in place to protect Canada’s environment both now and for the future. By enforcing these laws, I am reducing both real and potential damage to the environment, which is a positive thing. At the end of the day, this is what makes my job very rewarding.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: There are all kinds of ways that a person can make a positive difference in the environment, starting with reducing, re-using and recycling, to perhaps volunteering at a beach or river cleanup project. Ask questions if you are curious as to how a business operates environmentally, because at the end of the day businesses will react to their customers’ demands. In addition, getting an education and entering the environmental field would enable someone to make a positive difference in the environment.


Mark, Wildlife Enforcement Officer

Mark, Wildlife Enforcement Officer
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: As a uniformed Wildlife Enforcement Officer, I work cooperatively with federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Interpol. I enforce Canadian environmental and wildlife laws which protect Canada’s plant and animal species.  I help regulate hunting activities and international wildlife trade that could adversely affect long-term wildlife conservation.  Some of my duties include communicating with the public, conducting inspections and investigations, searching for evidence, arresting subjects, and charging those who violate Canada’s wildlife laws.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Originally, I always had an interest in being outdoors and working with wildlife in Canada.  As I grew up, I switched from just wanting to work outdoors with wildlife, to wanting to help protect wildlife and the natural environment from being damaged or destroyed.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to be a Fish and Wildlife Technician.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from Northern Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My duties take me to various parts of Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Protecting wildlife by bringing to justice people who intentionally break Canadian environmental and wildlife laws for profit and who try to avoid being caught.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Foremost, being outdoors and working with wildlife in Canada.  There are many other rewarding parts to the job, including preventing poachers from exploiting endangered or threatened wildlife species for profit.  Preventing people from killing species at risk and destroying their habitats.  The job contributes to global wildlife conservation and protection by deterring the killing and sale of rare and endangered plant and animal species in the global illegal wildlife trade.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Obtain a post-secondary college or university education in natural resource management and resource law enforcement field of study.  Get work and volunteer experience in natural resource management and seek assistance with preparing your resume.


Peter, Senior Enforcement Engineer

Peter, Senior Enforcement Engineer
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a Senior Enforcement Engineer and National Operational Advisor for Environment Canada’s the Enforcement Branch.  I provide specialty advice in environmental law enforcement policies, techniques and expert witness services.  I also assist in designing the plans, protocol and procedures for complex environmental investigations.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I began researching toxic chemicals and how they were used in industry and the chain of reactions associated with their release into the environment. I then developed technical manuals for regulations to control these chemicals. When the enforcement division was created, I developed enforcement strategies to implement regulations, which led to working with the Department of Justice to prosecute these types of cases.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I originally wanted to work in the RCMP, but had a keen interest in science and engineering. I first enrolled in a technical college and studied engineering principles and laboratory chemistry techniques. Then I went to engineering school and finally pre-medicine to gain an understanding of biology and biochemistry and how toxic chemicals could affect living organisms.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from the Fraser Valley in British Columbia and grew up in a rural community.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I live in North Vancouver now and work in the Environment Canada Pacific Regional office in Downtown Vancouver.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: For some cases there were no tools to collect the evidence, so I designed and patented tools. This led to the ability to collect the evidence needed “to crack the case” which means finding the critical evidence that will prove the offence. Once you find that evidence, the development of the prosecution brief begins.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: The legal investigations I become involved with, often take four to seven years to complete, so there is a lot of hard work, perseverance and effort. Time and again, the successful outcome usually results in the significant reduction in pollution and seeing an industry change its practices which leads to a sustainable environment.

I also teach investigation techniques and provide training for all levels, from high school to college, university and international environmental agencies. Recently, I worked with INTERPOL to lead the development of a Pollution Crimes Forensics Investigations Manual which will be distributed to 190 countries. It will help developing countries build their own environmental law enforcement programs and has given me the opportunity to act locally and globally in protecting the environment.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: In order to truly be effective in making a difference for the environment and especially in the field of environmental law enforcement, you need a broad education that includes chemistry, biology and natural sciences. To do law enforcement, you also need an understanding of the legal system and how evidence is collected and presented in court. To present technical information, good communication and public speaking skills are essential, especially if you are a witness in court. Finally, as you progress, project management skills are necessary and apply to everything from how to study for exams to how to deal with large more complex environmental investigations.


Philippe, Research Officer

Philippe, Research Officer
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a research officer for air quality. I am involved in scientific research projects and in the development of tools that improve the quality of air for Canadians, especially during the hot summer months.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: To put it simply, I love research. It's as though I'm still in university but without the exams! We keep learning, we enquire, we constantly evolve – we advance science, even though it may be in small, baby steps. We feel useful when our results are taken into consideration by decision-makers and integrated into laws that ultimately helps improve the quality of people’s lives.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: Growing up, I was always outdoors and had great respect for the environment. I gain a lot from nature and I owe it a lot in return. For me, working in the environment was a way of combining my work and my private life, of being proud of my work and never losing the motivation to fulfill my goals. I am aware of how fragile the environment is and how vulnerable we are to its effects. My goals have never changed since I was a young child – I wanted to work in the environment and share my ambitions.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in the south of France (Marseille), where I grew up near the ocean and the mountains. My mother is from Quebec – which explains in part why I have been living in Montréal for ten years.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work for the Meteorological Service of Canada at Place Bonaventure in downtown Montréal.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: My research projects can vary greatly from one to another. However, the enthusiasm is always the same when it comes to sharing results, exchanging expertise and helping to define environmental issues. The most fulfilling aspect is knowing that our work could affect thousands of people. For instance, I've worked on the effects of air pollution on Canadians. I've also worked on the identification of storm paths in Hudson Bay, so that engineers can orient the bearing of port dykes to counter the effects of waves and sea ice. As well, I've worked on the phenomenon of urban heat islands which, combined with heat waves, can have a dramatic impact on the more vulnerable segments of the population. I've also had the opportunity to work in Africa. I've travelled there twice to share our knowledge of climatological analysis tools so that farmers in the Sahel can adapt to a changing monsoon season in a changing climate. Each one of these projects provides a certain sense of accomplishment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I like interacting with other institutions and partners who deal with the same environmental problems. For instance, when I am working on heat waves, discussions with public health specialists are always very rewarding and help guide research and work objectives. The best analyses are conducted by combining several sources of data (climatological, socio-economic, health, etc.). In fact, I am now working on the development of a decision-making tool to help stakeholders who issue extreme heat warnings. The environment is a multidisciplinary field that opens our eyes to the world and forces us to adopt a global vision. That is fulfilling.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Careers related to the environment is one field that will never become saturated or outdated; there will always be a need for new expertise and new vision, where everyone can be invited to contribute. An environment-related career is gratifying because from cities to nature, we are working to protect ecosystems and offer a better quality of life that affects the health of all Canadians.


Roger, Sediment Remediation Specialist

Roger, Sediment Remediation Specialist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: As a federal environmental scientist, I work with provincial and municipal governments, as well as industry, First Nations and the general public on projects aimed at cleaning up contaminated sediments from around the Great Lakes. Some of my duties include site assessments, environmental monitoring, contract management, project management, financial tracking and public outreach. Half of my time is spent in the office while the other half is spent in the field or at meetings.  Most of the travelling I do is within Ontario however, I have also been to many provinces and the United States.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Since grade 12 I have been interested in the environment. On my last co-op work term at the University of Waterloo, I was hired at Environment Canada to do water, air and sediment monitoring and assessments. Contaminated sediments were of great interest leading me to seek a career in this field with Environment Canada.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: Growing up, I wanted to do something in law enforcement.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Southern Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is located in Toronto, Ontario but I travel throughout the province of Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: I enjoy working aboard our research ship the CCGS LIMNOS, as it sails through the Great Lakes for several days, to collect environmental samples for water and sediment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I have had the opportunity to meet a wide range of interesting people from all walks of life who are passionate about the environment. As well, I get to clean up contaminated sediment in places like Hamilton Harbour. Cleaning up contaminants in the lakes and rivers help make it safer for everyone to drink, swim, fish and enjoy recreational activities like boating. These clean ups help preserve the Great Lakes for future generations.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Obtain a post-secondary college or university education in science or engineering. Get work and volunteer experience in the environmental field. Attend job fairs and be sure to visit the Government of Canada web site for job opportunities. Speak to people you know in the environmental field to understand the wide range of jobs available.


Stephanie, Biomonitoring Scientist

Stephanie, Biomonitoring Scientist
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a biomonitoring scientist with the Fresh Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division in the Science and Technology Branch.

I am the regional lead for the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) program. I collect samples of benthic (the lowest level in a body of water) invertebrate communities from streams and rivers throughout British Columbia and Yukon Territory. We use communities of bugs living at the bottom of streams to tell us about the health of the aquatic ecosystem. I also provide CABIN training and field certification courses for people interested in participating in CABIN. As CABIN is a collaborative program, we work together with other agencies like the BC Ministry of Environment, Parks Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Yukon Territory Government and non-governmental organizations to share data for reporting on the health of freshwater ecosystems.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I wanted to do something that would help conserve our environment. Informing Canadians about ecosystem health is the first step. I particularly enjoy that my work involves biology because, at the end of the day, that is what we are trying to protect.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: A musician in a pit orchestra for any Broadway musical.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from Tecumseh, a small town in southwestern Ontario outside of Windsor.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Vancouver, B.C.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Sampling our beautiful streams and rivers in western Canada.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: The most rewarding part is working collaboratively with our partners towards a common goal of environmental conservation and protection.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I recommend seeking out internship programs such as the Federal Student Work Experience Program or the Science Horizons Youth Internship Program and volunteer opportunities to discover the different kinds of government science careers that exist and also to gain valuable experience.


Suzie, Analyst, Environmental Assessments

Suzie, Analyst, Environmental Assessments
© Environment Canada

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am an analyst for environmental assessments. I review environmental impact studies for multiple projects (mining, wind farms, maritime works, dredging, etc.) and issue notices regarding Environment Canada issues that are sent to the project promoters.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I chose to work for Environment Canada because environmental protection has always been important to me.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted a stimulating job that meant something to me, that respects my deepest values and in which I could feel I was being useful to society, while maintaining a balanced work-family life.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from Quebec and I grew up in nature in the beautiful Laurentians region.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work near the Old Port of Montreal. It is a nice area because, on my lunch breaks, I can go outside and walk along the St. Lawrence River.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Occasionally, I have projects that allow me to get out and do some field work. I go around by boat collecting samples of contaminated sediment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I have the feeling I am making a small difference in the protection of our beautiful planet and our future generations… our children.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Believe in your abilities, work hard to get the necessary diplomas, persevere over and over and most of all… pursue your dreams!