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Read about Jennifer Ashawasegai-Pereiras brilliant job with AECOM

Read about Jennifer Ashawasegai-Pereira's brilliant job with AECOM

 February 07, 2022

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The AECOM People Spotlight series provides an inside look at its technical experts around the world.

As part of the series, AECOM spotlighted Jennifer Ashawasegai-Pereira, an Indigenous Reconciliation Advisor in the Sudbury, Ontario office, which is in the Robinson Huron Treaty territory in Canada.

Jennifer is also a board member for the Canadian Renewable Energy Association. The Anishinabe Kwe (Ojibway woman) from Henvey Inlet First Nation began her journey at AECOM five years ago as a First Nations Community Liaison.

Here, she describes her career progression with AECOM

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry?

When I started working part-time at AECOM as a First Nation Community Liaison for a highway expansion project being built in my territory, I recognized the critical need for cultural awareness training and communications support to promote understanding and awareness of Indigenous Peoples, and how our projects can impact their community.

Later, through a 50/50 partnership, my community and Pattern Canada developed a 300-MW wind project on community land that could generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 100,000 homes in Ontario. The Henvey Inlet Wind project was a one-of-a-kind venture: it was both the largest single-phase wind project in Ontario, as well as the largest First Nation wind partnership project in Canada. AECOM was hired to conduct the environmental assessments as well as carry out the environmental monitoring program during the project’s construction phase.

As a Community Liaison, I had the wonderful opportunity to lead job recruitment and retention of Anishinabek employees, help ease cultural challenges and support training initiatives. I really enjoyed this rewarding project work with AECOM and transitioned to a full-time employee. 

What's a favorite AECOM project you've worked on and why?

It's hard to choose a favorite project because I generally enjoy all my work at AECOM. That said, a standout is my project work as a Community Liaison when we rolled out the environmental monitoring program for the Henvey Inlet Wind project. I loved having “boots on the ground” during the construction phase, talking with other Anishinabek about their traditional knowledge and what they learned through their experience with us. Because of our local staff knowledge of the land and proximity to the project site, we were able to more effectively protect and preserve the natural environment and provide time- and cost-saving opportunities for the client. It was an exciting time and I’m very proud to have been involved in this sustainable legacy project, one that recognized social value and fit the local community needs.

How has your work positively impacted the community?

Part of my responsibilities as a First Nation Community Liaison involved employee recruitment. I encouraged candidates who were initially hesitant to apply for positions with AECOM, helping them gain successful employment. This required a positive rapport with local communities and knowledge of support networks within these communities and AECOM. First Nation leadership never hesitated to maintain open and honest dialogue. This is critical to projects when Indigenous communities are clients, partners or are to be consulted or engaged.

I am also excited to be a member of AECOM's Progressive Aboriginal Relations Committee to help our company achieve certification from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. This certification confirms our corporate performance as a good business partner, a great place to work and a strong commitment to prosperity in Aboriginal communities. Additionally, I am proud of our continued work to elevate and grow Indigenous Engagement initiatives globally.

Can you share a piece of career advice?

Every year or two, spend some time thinking about your career and taking inventory of your skills. Challenge yourself by learning something new, either for your career or your personal growth. Learning opportunities are everywhere.

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