Canim Lake Band member Dawn McGrath, AScT, ROWP was presented an illustrious award for Women in Technology from Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC (ASTTBC).
McGrath received her award at the ASTTBC Technology Awards and Recognition Celebration gala at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver on Nov. 17.
The significance of her award is further exemplified by the congratulations she received at the event from high-level dignitaries, including a letter of congratulations from British Columbia Premier John Horgan.
McGrath is the highest certified First Nation woman in municipal water/wastewater operations in B.C., something she believes is an extremely important role to inspire in others.
This stellar accomplishment was noted in a speech made by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde stating McGrath has earned this honour and is a role model as “a positive example for all our people” through her dedication and determination.
Speeches also included praise for McGrath’s outstanding achievements in the field of practice of home infrastructure, water/wastewater, heavy equipment operations, and contributions to First Nations communities in B.C. and across Canada, she later explained.
With her skills in negotiating contracts, archeological impacts, managing political environments, communication strategies, and environmental analysis and risk mitigation, McGrath said she recently founded MC2 Management Ltd., a consulting company in West Kelowna.
Her work history includes Westbank First Nation’s superintendent of public works and utilities (2014-17), Cayoose Creek Economic Development Corp. (2012-13), Skeetchestn Indian Band (2008-2011), and as an assistant area manager in Northern BC for the BC Ministry of Transportation (1998-2001), and others.
Among her career accomplishments so far has estimated projects of up to $7.5 million, developed operational budgets exceeding $5 million annually, and cash flows and investment recommendations on $33 million- trust.
Typically a private person, McGrath said it was hard for her to accept such public recognition at the awards ceremony.
“It reflects your life teachings, what you’ve contributed, your sacrifices that you’ve gone without, your employment and where you’ve gone … you really mark your storybook and you open that up to someone else.”
One of the most difficult pieces in her career has been balancing all the projects and after-hour calls with being a single mother raising her 10-year-old son, McGrath said, adding she herself has relied on mentorship at times.
While Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was also invited, she had a prior engagement in 100 Mile House, McGrath noted.
“Being a single mom who has dedicated my life to my work efforts, I absolutely appreciated [Donna Barnett’s] commitment – she has been a great mentor and inspiration.”
McGrath credited her son, Maddex, as her “best life work” and biggest supporter, and said she informed him on the way home from the gala ceremony that “this isn’t just mom’s award, this is our award.”