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Violet Montgomery helps protect environment on OPG’s Little Long Dam Safety Project

Violet Montgomery doesn’t mind camp life or shift schedules – in fact, she prefers it.

Violet Montgomery is an Environmental Technician with Kiewit working on OPG's Little Long Dam Safety Project.
Violet Montgomery is an Environmental Technician with Kiewit working on OPG's Little Long Dam Safety Project.

The Moose Cree First Nation member is currently working as an Environmental Technician with contractor Kiewit on OPG’s Little Long Dam Safety (LLDS) Project, located about 90 kilometres north of Kapuskasing.

“I’ve worked the 9 to 5 jobs, and shift work, and I prefer the camp life,” Montgomery explained. “It’s usually a remote setting, you’re not spending money, your meals are prepared, and there’s usually recreational activities.

“The camaraderie at camps also makes the work days easier; you get to know your colleagues a lot better.”

With a home base in North Bay, and family in Cochrane, camp life can be difficult, but Montgomery said that technology makes it easier, as she is able to video chat with her husband regularly. “We always say that distance makes the heart grow fonder,” she joked.

She is one of about 150 staff currently working on the LLDS Project, a dam safety project which will see additional sluicegates added to the Little Long spillway at Adam Creek to increase capacity in the event of a significant flood event.

In her role, Montgomery is part of a team that ensures the project is continually meeting environmental compliance standards. Her day-to-day work includes water sampling and testing, site monitoring, and reporting any issues that might arise. For Montgomery, as an Indigenous person who enjoys the outdoors, protecting the environment has always been important.

“I consider myself a nature-lover,” she said. “I like going for walks in the bush, hunting, fishing. It’s especially significant given the project is taking place on Moose Cree territory. It’s important to protect it.”

After getting her start on OPG’s Lower Mattagami River Project in the Quality Control department, Montgomery moved on to other opportunities, including a hydro project in Manitoba, a return to Ontario for work on OPG’s Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station project, and work as a process plant operator at the Victor Mine in Attawapiskat. She has also worked as an ice road trucker, transporting freight and fuel between Moosonee and the Victor Mine, an experience she says is most surprising to people, given her small stature and background.

“It makes me proud when I tell people about my story, and their reaction is amazement at the fact that I’ve dipped my toes in so many different things,” she said. “People are especially surprised to hear about the fact that I have my AZ licence and have worked as an ice road trucker. It’s nice to see people’s reactions to what I’ve accomplished so far in my career.”

Montgomery added that working on the Little Long Dam Safety Project has made it clear that she would like to continue working in Environment, and that the future may hold some further courses to help expand her knowledge in the field.

For now, she will continue to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with working on a project of this magnitude.

“I do feel like I’m contributing to the project as well as to the well-being of the environment as a whole. I’m very glad to be gaining the knowledge in this field.”

Another perk to project life in remote Northeastern Ontario? “The winter sunrises,” she said. “They provide great perspective, and they’re a great calming way to start the day and stay grounded.”