It has been awhile since my last post, so I decided to give a bit of an update on my life. Mostly, I have been working for an instrumentation & electrical company here in Dawson Creek.
So far, its been a lot better than Surepoint. More regular work, and a younger crowd of people to hang out with. We have work parties and go on skiing trips. Update: As of March, we are layed off.
I am going back to trade school for 10 weeks in May-June for level 2 electrical at TRU in Kamloops. Time to finish what I started way back in 2008.
With more training I will be able to apply to better jobs and get where I need to be in a few years, gainfully employed as a journeyman electrician. I tried doing the instrumentation thing but it doesn’t allow me to travel outside the Peace River Region.
Ultimately, I would like to be back in Ontario or living on the coast of BC where the weather is much more moderate. Somewhere with access to more cultural events.
I feel very isolated up here most of the time. All my close friends live quite far away from me. Here is quick break down:
Prince George: Toby Mcwilliams, Marshall Spinney, Patrick Poirier
Fort St. John: Mike Spinney Tumbler Ridge: Kurtis Lindsay
Edmonton: Katlin Lindsay Calgary: Scott & Sara Richey
Winnipeg: Anny Chen Hamilton & TO: the Elliots, Brent Campbell
Quebec: Alexis Dionne, Genevieve Leblanc, Antoine Turgeon, Caroline Bernard, Kevin Greaves
I am honestly not sure where I should go. Kind of tired not having a community or a core group of friends to hang out with. Dawson Creek is alright, but I am not growing as a person here. And without reliable work there is no point in being here anymore.
This my best attempt to describe a “perfect” day of my life in the year 2020. I am looking a for a life of relative freedom & zero stress. 37.5-40 hour work week would be optimal. Lots of long weekends & time spent with my family and friends. I want to live in a medium to large community, preferably a mid-sized city with lots of cultural things to do. >100,000 people
My typical morning would start at 8:00 am and I could either walk, cycle, or take the bus to work. I would want a certain amount of autonomy to my job, a combination of field/office work, freedom to pick my own projects, & reasonable amounts of personal time.
I want to live somewhere with a temperate climate & and next to zero snow in the winter time. Access to skiing would be possible, but would require a 2-3 hour drive to the mountains. Besides my job, I would be involved in my community either volunteering or being a part of a society.
My free time would include such things as community theatre & improvisation workshops on the weekends. There would be plenty of opportunities for hiking & camping within reasonable driving distance. Our house would be somewhat central to the downtown core, but with a big enough backyard that we could have relative privacy.
I would still be playing guitar but much more practiced, possibly even formed a band with a few close friends. There would always be time for reading, writing, & discussion about world event/politics etc. By this time, I hope to have found the person that I will want to love & marry.
In general, I want to be happy, relaxed, & settled into my life, community, and career(s).
A lot has happened in the time since Katimavik. It will be 4 years in September since we all met. As I sit in Tim Hortons writing this, I can not help but to be reminded of some our first excursions in Hamilton. Currently, I live in Dawson Creek which is Mile Zero of the famous Alaska Highway route, constructed by the US Army in 1942 as a supply route to Fairbanks during WW2.
In the 2 years since I left Quebec intending to go to the University of Alberta, a fair amount has changed in my life.
a) I never went to UofA. b) I never went travelling, either. c) I had depression consume me. d) I stayed with relatives on the Sunshine Coast. e) I worked construction & at the info centre. f) I moved to Dawson Creek and started an electrical apprenticeship.
This past winter, I spent most of my time working in Northern Alberta. My old company had a contract for labourers & tradesmen in Highlevel at the OSB mill. Mostly shift work, 8-10 days at a time. 12 hours per day. And it was a 5 hour drive north every rotation…
Anyways, I have somewhat re-discovered my purpose. At the very least, a career direction. I want to work in trades & technology (again) after a fair amount of time away from it. But with different goals & clearer intentions than when I was 18 & fresh out of high school.
Recently, I changed companies for a better work-life balance & to work closer to (home). Starting to build somewhat of a base here in Dawson…a couple of friends I grew up with live here and my brother is coming in September.
In general, things are going well for me. I try and keep in touch with people as much as I can. Spent 2 weeks back East in May-June visiting people in TO, the Hammer, Quebec & Valleyfield. Brent, mon famille d’accueil, Genevieve, Antoine, & Alexis. Miss all of you guys, so much. <3
Eventually, I would like to end up back in that part of Canada, but right now I have things going on here at (home). In the meantime, I would encourage you to write, email, skype or facebook message me. Whatever you feel like, I will get back to as soon as I can.
It doesn’t sound like we are having a full scale reunion this year but I wouldn’t mind seeing the East & West halves get together. Thinking of you all,
Hello world, I have a confession to make. Its difficult to admit, but here goes…I suck at finishing what I start. Lately, my life has come full circle to things that I began when I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Almost 7 years ago at this point. Where did the time go?
I have grown & learned so much during that time. And as a result, became a completely different person than I ever expected to be. When I was 18 the biggest ambition in my life was be an electrician at BC Hydro, work a 30-40 year career, and retire in Hudson’s Hope. My life back then did not include travel or meeting new people in the way that I do now. It not include being bilingual and living in Quebec. In all honesty, it was quite boring. Life is, and can be so much more if you allow it to be and make it happen one step at a time.
It’s all about the big picture. Choosing a career is only half the battle. You need to figure out what to do with your free time, beyond work that really matters. Personally, I have decided to use this time for travel, and other interesting ventures. Put your time, and money into things that matter most to you. Forget about the unimportant, boring shit in your life. And there can be a lot of this, and people for that matter…screw them.
In terms of a career, after taking a year off to re-evaluate my options, I have decided that I want to work in trades and technology. More specifically, as an industrial electrician. I enjoy working with tools, and learning how different types of equipment operate. In someways, I am uniquely suited to this career. My formal education is highly technical, with an electrical trades certificate from Northern Lights College and 1/2 of a diploma from the Electrical & Computer Engineering Technology program at B.C.I.T.
I considered going to the University of Alberta last year, but ultimately it wasn’t a feasible financial option. As well, I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted out of such a program. Arts & humanities would be great but the world doesn’t need more BA’s. We need people with technical skills in trades, engineering, and technology. Lately, I have been thinking about Process Automation Technology at McMaster in Hamilton.
For the past 5-10 months, I have been working in an OSB Mill in Highlevel, Alberta doing contract work for Ainsworth Engineering. Started out doing board testing, and gradually migrated toward to working with tools and troubleshooting electro-mechanical equipment. In a strange way, I found my purpose again. A lot of my mechanical skills and knowledge have started to come back to the surface.
At work, I have started cross-training as a millwright apprentice. Which is odd, because my educational background is in electrical/electronics. It has been very rewarding to work with actual tradesmen rather than labourers & non-technical people. I enjoy working with tools & figuring out how things work in the field.
Moving forward, I would like to do more electrical work. Understanding how things work mechanically has been great, but I still feel my biggest strength is in electrical & understanding process. Combining the two disciplines has led me towards industrial instrumentation.
I just got back from the Yukon the other week and wanted to give you an impression of my time spent up there.
Prior to my trip, I had been in a bit of a slump. I have a new truck that needed to be broken in, so I headed on a 1500 km road trip to Whitehorse, YT.
The Yukon truly is larger than life. I took lots of pictures but it really is something you need to see for yourself. Starting out from Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway and heading North there is a lot to see and do. Definitely make a pit-stop in Fort Nelson and check out their heritage museum. It is packed with some really great stuff from the early days of pioneering and the out buildings are full of vintage cars/machinery.
Heading North from FN, you start heading into the Northern Rockies/Muskwa-Kechika mangagement area. It is very beautiful scenery and a must see for nature/hiking enthusiasts. The drive itself is quite enjoyable, but it wasn’t always this way. Prior to construction of the highway, it was treacherous overland route to get to the Yukon through wilderness and muskeg. Most of the bad spots have been straightened out. And Summit Pass is the highest elevation along the entire highway. Enjoy!
From there, the drive is pretty much a straight shot to the Yukon. Watson Lake is a great little place to get gas, a bite to eat at Kathy’s kitchen, and check out the Sign Post Forest. After that is the Villiage of Teslin, which is the Gateway to the Southern Lakes. Again a great little place to stop and take some pictures of the mountains.
A new year means a fresh start and new directions. It also means goal setting and resolutions. (That we never keep) So, I have decided to do something a little different this year. Rather than set goals, I am going to live by core themes and pursue them in stages in order to improve my life.
Last year I had 3 core goals/themes that I wanted to follow. (Rated with commentary)
New Years Resolutions 2012/Résolutions pour 2012
1. To be healthy in body, mind and spirit/Être en bonne santé avec ma corps, mon tête, et l’esprit.
3/5 In Québec, I was the most healthy since high school. It was because I was living on my own, eating right, and exercising regularly. This year I want to check off a few of my 101 in 1001 challenges, including running a 10k marathon and biking 120 km.
2. To become fluent in french/Parler couramment le français
4/5 Living in Québec for 9 months + regular immersion classes helped me improve my conversational french immensely. I feel very confident when speaking to people and consider myself to be fluent. (C1 or C2) I would like to work on my german this year (via Skype) for a trip to Oktoberfest in September.
3. To travel/Voyager
3/5 On this note, I did a lot of travel in Canada. But I did make a couple trips to Montréal & Hamilton, a trip to Edmonton, the Martimes trip was great, and I went to the Sunshine Coast as well. One thing I really want to accomplish this year is international travel. A trip to the States for WDS 2013 in Portland, a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, and maybe New York for New Years if I can afford it.
This year I want to focus on themes, not goals and see how much more I can accomplish. As Craig Anthony of Money, Sex & Focus puts it:
Living your themes enables you to complete your goals.
Goals are like stepping stones to the larger themes of your life. On that note, I would like to share my themes for 2013 and some resources to accomplish them.
New Years Themes 2013/Résolutions pour 2013/Neujahrsvorsätze
1) Being healthy ( Mind, body & spirit)
Reason: Being physically fit means more energy and life experiences.
If I was talking to my 17-year old self with the knowledge I have now, what would I tell them?
In 2007, I graduated with a class of 14 people from my K-12 school in Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia. With a plan. I was going to become an electrician with BC Hydro to pay for an education in theatre. Which I forgot about until recently. I remembered the best way to pay my tuition and living expenses was to have a solid skill (trade or technical) to fall back on and support me while I was studying my true passion.
I am going to set forth my guide for paying for post secondary education if you come from a low-income family or do not have a full-ride scholarship.
Finish highschool. Get your grade 12 for christ-sakes! You didn’t have to pay for that one. Just show up and do the work. Otherwise, you will have pay for it later with a GED. Don’t even take hard classes like physics or math if you don’t want too. I did because it opened the door to the trades. In my school district there is a paid 4 year scholarship to UNBC in Prince George for the student with the highest GPA in grade 11. They don’t even look at the courses you take just the average.
If I was smarter, I would have taken more fluff classes (ie the humanities) and skipped science and math. But I was not really interested in UNBC as a school. But for some people it worked and they got a 4 year degree out of it. If there are opportunities like that in your area, take advantage of them. Maybe, you can go to school for free.
What if you don’t have a paid scholarship? Or rich parents? Or you really don’t know what to do with your life? My advice: DON’T GO TO SCHOOL! Wait at least one year before thinking about applying. Any of the awards you got out of high school will still be good for at least 1-2 years after graduating. But what should you do with your gap year?
There are lots of great programs out there, but you have to pay fees. Not really desirable for people on a budget saving for school. Preferably, you want to do something low-cost, allows you to travel, build some skills and learn about what yourself. Something like Katimavik, a youth service learning program for ages 17-21 in Canada. I had the privilege of being part of the program in 2010-11 and it completely changed my outlook on life. Unfortunately, the Conservative government doesn’t care about youth and shut it down last March.
Katimavik’s sister program Canada World Youth has an international mandate is similar and still recruiting for the 2013-14 program year.
Work or a paid job shadows are good options. I have personally done both. And they helped me decide what I didn’t want to do for a career. Namely, 24-30 hour shifts in the oil and gas industry or mindless hours of sanding screws while dry-walling. All good paying jobs but not a career. I believe that doing things and learning by experience is better than any 4 year university program. Real world skills in other words.
Finding a Passion
This is extremely misleading. There is a difference between having a passion for something, and doing something passionately. Traditional career advice is follow your passion and the money will come. I don’t agree with that. There is an inherent bias towards technical trades and business when it comes to profitability. Arts and other media on the other hand take a back seat. For the average person, it is extremely difficult to make a living from their craft.
Artists often take side jobs and other forms of employment to pay the bills. Or enter into a related field such as teaching. Only the most talented and well-connected successfully make a living with their art*. (*includes actors, musicians, photographers, painters & writers) It is often better to have a technical skill first in order to save money for university or art school. And then follow your passion.
Building Technical Skills
You can take professional programs to become certified in education, health care, social services, trades or business. With these programs, you have high employability in 6-12 months. Upon graduation, you can enter directly into the workforce. Work 3-4 years, save up the cash for university and move on to bigger and better things. You will enter better prepared and more focused than kids coming directly out of highschool.
Do not go into debt to pay for your education. The bank and government make money from your interest. This is calculated from the day you graduate, and even if you don’t finish school, the loan is non forgivable. Canadian students have an unsustainable level of debt and it is getting worse as institutions continue to raise tuition prices 2-3% per year.
Remember:Education is a business. It is not really about providing students with the resources to better themselves for the future, it’s all about money. Plain and simple. The faster you figure that out, the better.
Go to school for your passion but wait until you can afford it. You will be better served gaining the technical skills from a professional program. In 3-4 years, save enough money to go to school without debt for the thing that you really love to do. It may not be the most direct route but it is the most financially feasible.
If you have any stories, similar to mine I would love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me an e-mail at email@example.com