A local engineer is being honoured for her work with the Indigenous community. Jessica Vandenberghe will be given the 2018 Indigenous Resources Leadership Award. She says getting this award means a lot to her.
“I feel incredibly honoured to receive this at this point. A lot of times these awards given by whatever organization are usually given towards the end of a person’s career and so to be recognized for efforts that I’ve made today mid-career means a whole lot to me.”
The Alberta Chamber of Resources gave the award to Vandenberghe in recognition of the efforts she has made outside of her formal work to promote understanding and education with Indigenous peoples, specifically Indigenous youth.
Vandenberghe grew up in the Hamlet of Woking, between Sexsmith and Rycroft. She holds a number of engineering degrees and has worked in the oil sands industry for just under 10 years. She is now the Indigenous Community Consultant and a Project Engineer at Urban Systems Limited.
As an engineer, she says she was often the only woman in the room and out in the field and was often the only Indigenous person as well. For that reason, she says gender diversity and ethnic diversity are important to her.
“I’ve volunteered for a number of organizations for that. Doing everything from job shadowing to role modelling to mentoring to helping build programs. I even went on to help found a non-profit organization called the Edmonton Business Diversity Network.”
She goes on to say that being the only woman she’s had to deal with comments from people her whole career. She believes that by volunteering and working with others she can help end that discrimination.
“I hear the same stories, I hear the same themes, I hear the frustrations and I know that I can play a role in moving forward some of these issues and concerns. Being an engineer has given me the ability to problem solve and approach things differently and get things done and so that drives me to keep at this volunteer wise.”
Vandenberghe will accept her award on February 1 at the ACR’s banquet in Edmonton.