[Opening title] Career Spotlight: Indigenous Land Surveyors
[Graphic text bumper] How do you become a land surveyor?
Tania Bigstone, CLS, PEILS
First Nations Land Management Resource Centre
Tania: I graduated from high school and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do so I took a year off and I worked at a grocery store and realized that maybe it wasn’t quite the career path that I wanted.
Tyson Quocksister, BCLS, EIT, BSc.Eng.
British Columbia Land Surveyor
McElhanney Associates Land Surveying Ltd.
Tyson: So when I was in high school I had no idea what land surveying was. And I basically was trying to decide what to do with my life.
Jason Holway, CLS, P.Eng.
Natural Resources Canada Surveyor General Branch
Jason: I had some family members that were involved with surveying and the Yukon’s a great place to learn that so I went to the Yukon College and got a Surveying Technician Certificate there.
Tania: So there was a geomatics engineering course at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. I started on that path and realized it was something that was actually really interesting.
Tyson: I decided, hey, engineering is something I could do, eventually ended up at University of Calgary and that’s where I decided surveying might be an option for me.
Jason: I went on to work for a couple of years, then I went to the University of Calgary, got a Geomatics engineering degree just to further my career.
Tyson: When you want to become a BC land surveyor, you end up going into what’s called an article process. So it’s kind of a hand’s on experience. And the land surveying community, it’s very close knit so I’ve had the opportunity to work with several land surveyors over the years so if I can pick something up from somebody that helps me do my job better, that’s great.
Tania: Upon completing all of the professional exams and the practical experience then I was able to become a licensed land surveyor.
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What does a land surveyor do?
Tyson: Some of the coolest projects I’ve worked on are surveys out in the bush for some of the local first nations. And some of this land hasn’t been touched in over a hundred years.
Tania: I think I’ve been lucky in the projects I’ve been able to work on. I’ve worked on the boundary between Nunavut and the North West Territories, so I’ve been up at the Arctic Ocean.
Tyson: There’s so much variety to the job. From drones to robotic total stations, these are tools that have developed over the years and they’re really just helping us do our job better. No day is the same as the day before.
Jason: Last year I actually spent time with the international boundary commission so doing some surveys on the Canada-US boundaries so it involved a lot of hiking and stuff in the mountains. It is great.
Tyson: And then there’s the other side of my job, we do a little bit of engineering and construction surveying as well. I’ve done some quite high precision stuff which I’ve always thought was pretty cool.
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Are there opportunities for indigenous land surveyors?
Tania: There is a future need for Indigenous land surveyors in Canada, there are very few of us.
Tyson: As these First Nations sign these treaty settlement negotiations, they have to develop land codes. So as an indigenous surveyor I think I can certainly help out these First Nations. And I’d love to see more youth come in to the survey industry, cause there’s opportunities there to work with their own people, for starters.
Jason: I feel it could give you a tie to your lands because land is such a huge part of First Nation culture so just to have a vested interest in that.
Tania: I hope that there actually will be more diversity in the surveyors coming through in the next few years. I hope that there are more First Nation youth that want to pick up surveying as a profession. Because I think that it definitely is a profession that their community needs.
Tyson: There’s lots of doors that are opened because I’m indigenous. I actually ended up getting a scholarship to go to University. The youth need to really consider their options and know that there’s funding available for their future.
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What skills do you need to become a land surveyor?
Tyson: If you like to be outdoors, you like to camp, fish, you know we ride ATVs, we use chain saws, if that’s the kind of stuff you’re interested in, you’d be great out in the bush.
Tania: You need organizational skills, you need to be able to think on the fly when you actually you get out to the field so you need to be able to adapt quite quickly.
Jason: An interest in outdoors is great because you’re going to spend a lot of time out there, fairly strong math skills, and if you’re interested in technology it’s definitely a nice career path.
Tania: It’s not easy to become a land surveyor. It is a lot of hard work. But for me, I think it’s paid off.
Tyson: You know a hundred years from now someone’s going to come along and they’re going to find one of my surveys, and they’re gonna have to retrace that survey and I think it’s cool just to be part of history.
For more information visit: NRCAN.GC.CA