Working as a woodlands planning student for Chetwynd Forest Industries (CFI) has been the best and most valuable work experience that I’ve had.
During my 10 months with CFI I expanded my timber development field skills, completed many administrative and analytical tasks related to cutting permits and led a small timber development crew. The work environment is learning focused: every question is answered, personal strengths are expanded, the workload is dynamic and detail-focused. CFI’s structure granted me autonomy and variety in my work: both field and office projects with focuses on revenue, forest planning and environmental requirements. In addition to rewarding work, I was met by enthusiastic and experienced co-workers. I now feel like part of the family at the division. To anyone seeking a diverse and in-depth forestry experience I recommend Chetwynd Forest Industries.
- Dane Woodlands planning student
My 4-month work term at Slave Lake Pulp was an extremely awesome experience. I entered the workforce with zero knowledge and left with tremendous experience gained from my co-op work term.
Slave Lake Pulp offers both office and field experience and they are willing to provide opportunities for co-op students to learn things that interest them. My colleagues at the mill were the greatest people I've ever worked with thus far. They were very friendly and willing to help whenever I had questions. I gained much knowledge in both workplace skills and academically, that will definitely help in my future work placements and school terms. I highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp for any student looking for a co-op work placement or summer experience
- Yumiko Co-op
I gained experience throughout my degree program by working summers in different industries; fabrication, chemical waste treatment and pulp and paper.
As a grad, my first job was at a pulp mill in Kawerau, New Zealand. When I moved to Canada, I got a position at a biotech company. However, the lure of working on a large site led me apply for a job at Hinton Pulp. I knew the excitement of working in a pulp mill and I wanted to live close to the Rockies.
The variety of the work I do is what makes my job exciting. My day-to-day activities can range from emergency trouble-shooting of equipment or process issues, project management and process studies for new products, to control system configuration and tuning. I feel that the wide scope of operations within a kraft pulp mill enables me to gain experience with a wide range of equipment and systems.
A junior engineer working at Hinton Pulp is able to get involved with processes that aren’t available at many other industrial plants. Where else can you find a 9-story tall, high pressure, continuous reactor? I think West Fraser offers a wide range of career paths for young engineers. The people I have the opportunity to work with here in Hinton are energetic, supportive and make the job fun. What’s fantastic about my work is the opportunity to discover what I most enjoy working on and turn it into a career.
- Simon Process/DCS Engineer at Hinton Pulp
I don’t think my introduction to forestry is typical: I was tired of waiting tables, so one day I walked into West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill and told them I wanted to start working for them.
The first day on the job, I heard there was a course for lumber graders. I took it, did well on the exam and started as a lumber grader right away. That’s how I started in forestry!
A year later, I moved to Hinton and I started working at Hinton Wood Products. On my own initiative, I decided to get my 4th class power engineer certification while on maternity leave. When I returned to the mill I was able to move into a Power Engineer role and the mill ended up reimbursing my tuition, which I didn’t expect. I am not shy of hard work. My experience at West Fraser is that if you take the steps, do the hard work, earn it and prove yourself, there’s more opportunity than you realize.
For a number of years as a Power Engineer I ran the lumber kilns and then the mill’s energy system. An electrical apprenticeship opportunity came up and I decided to sign up for it. I know I have proved I can work hard and achieve what I set out to do. Now that I am apprenticing at the mill, I love that I feel like I am learning something new every shift.
When it gets right to it, the most important thing for me is my family. I’m a single mom so it’s sometimes tough to balance my education, shift work and volunteering as the head coach for my two boy’s hockey teams – but we manage. We sit down and do our homework together at the kitchen table! I like working at West Fraser and doing what I do because I can advance myself and still be there for my family.
- Veronica Apprentice Electrician
Being a part of the Green Dream Internship in its first year has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m walking away from this experience having gained numerous transferable workplace skills, exposure to different parts of Canada and an appreciation for the forestry industry.
Hopefully all those reading the Greenest Workforce Intern blogs realize like I do now, how exciting, engaging and promising the forestry industry of Canada really is. It’s an industry that seamlessly integrated a challenging and rewarding work environment with the opportunity to lead a relaxed lifestyle in some of the most beautiful regions of this great country.
- Mark Greenest Workforce "Green Dream" Intern at Slave Lake Pulp
My first co-op work term at Slave Lake Pulp was truly a great learning experience. The mill strongly emphasizes the importance of safety, which demonstrates the amount of care Slave Lake Pulp shows towards its employees.
New technologies are always being explored, which allows co-op students (like me) to be included in various projects. There is the opportunity to work both inside an industrial environment as well as an office environment, for multiple departments such as Technical, Operations, and Engineering. However, the most enjoyable aspect of my work term were the co-workers I spent four months with. They fostered a caring environment where my questions were encouraged, and each of them offered any help I needed regardless of how busy they were. The Town of Slave Lake itself is a closely-knit community, with numerous recreation centres and outdoor activities to unwind after a long day. I believe Slave Lake Pulp offered an opportunity for me that I would not have been able to receive anywhere else.
- Jasper Engineering Co-Op Student
I started as a lumber grader, working in the planer before I began my millwright apprenticeship at the Quesnel sawmill. I did my entire apprenticeship with West Fraser. Last year I was promoted to Weekend Maintenance Supervisor – a job that I really enjoy.
What I like the most about working here are the people that I get to work with every day. I have an incredible team of experienced and skilled millwrights that make even challenging days at the mill fun. I also supervise our 20 person weekend cleanup crew of people who are really excellent and who have as much as 30 years’ experience, which is really amazing for me.
In addition to the people see every day, I feel really fortunate to work on top-of-the-line equipment. I like to work for a mill that I think is ahead of the industry in safety, dust control, efficient production, great people and great equipment. I’m competitive. Working in this kind of high-performance production environment keeps me on my toes.
Why did I choose this career? I chose it because it offered me an opportunity to work in a great job and maintain an active lifestyle that allows me to spend time with my family. I work with a great crew and I am home every night to see my wife and kids. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
- Mike Weekend Maintenance Supervisor
Working as technical summer student at Slave Lake Pulp was an extremely valuable experience. I’ve lived in Slave Lake since Grade 7. I had heard of the pulp mill but never really understood what it encompassed.
When I started, I quickly realized everyone here contributes hard work and their spirit to the environment at the mill. They immediately made me feel welcome and provided me with so many great opportunities. Going into second year engineering, I feel that this summer job helped me to learn important skills including safety when working in an industrial environment and time management, which I will take with me through my future jobs. A dynamic and constantly changing work environment made Slave Lake Pulp an exciting and challenging place to work, giving me a comfortable level of responsibility while ensuring I had all the support and guidance I needed. To anyone who is looking for great summer experience, I would highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp.
- Jennifer Technical summer student
After I graduated from high school, my first job was in the wood energy industry as an operator. There I had a chance to see what the electricians were doing on site and I became very interested in pursuing the trade.
I started as an apprentice electrician in the “oil patch” for an oil and gas company in Northern Alberta and worked there for two and half years. The job was a lot of grunt work and long hours. I was worried about being stuck in a narrow position where I would not have an opportunity to learn the full spectrum of my trade. I decided to work in residential, and then commercial construction to round out my skills. In the last year of my apprenticeship, an opportunity came up at West Fraser’s Slave Lake Veneer mill and I jumped at the job. I am really glad I did.
At first, I was overwhelmed – but I feel like I have learned more at West Fraser in a few months than I learned in years at other jobs. At the beginning I planned on moving on from here after I stopped learning, but three years into this job I feel I have only learned a portion of what I am capable of. At Slave Lake Veneer I get to work with state-of-the-art technology. I am grateful for the support, patience and mentorship from my colleagues to continue to learn new skills. There are plenty of hands-on opportunities to improve my skills because we are always pushing the technology forward and experimenting to improve the operation of the mill.
Working in a veneer mill has been amazing for me. The people I work with are excellent and the broadness of what we deal with compared to other places I have worked is extraordinary. What I would like to tell other tradespeople considering working for West Fraser is that the opportunity to grow at this Company really never ends – and that is hard to find anywhere."
- Tony Electrical Charge Hand
Working at Slave Lake Pulp has been one of the best work experiences I have ever had. I have spent three summers working there. During that time I have gained tons of experience in the field of engineering.
The mill is very safety oriented and has a great safety training program which will prepare you for any industrial/construction job site in the future. The mill has a great work atmosphere filled with even better people, and is always moving forward, allowing students to be involved with new and exciting projects. If you enjoy the outdoors, Slave Lake will provide you with all the outdoor activities you can think of such as fishing, hiking, swimming, golf, etc. I highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp to any and all engineering students looking to gain experience and to work with some great people.
- Ryan Engineering Co-Op Student
My first 8-month co-op work term at Slave Lake Pulp. At first, I was nervous about what to expect as well as the idea of relocating to a small town. I was able to get accustomed to the workplace in no time, thanks to the help I have received from the other co-workers who were very friendly and willing to help.
I was very satisfied with my work experience at Slave Lake Pulp and in my opinion it is filled with very good learning opportunities all around. Now in my fourth year of chemical engineering and looking back at my time in Slave Lake, I realized I lacked a little on the initiative and missed out a bit on the technical learning opportunities available. However, with a little initiative and motivation, a work term at Slave Lake Pulp can become a great learning experience. I encourage any students in the Co-op program who are looking for a good experience in the manufacturing industry to try a work term or two at Slave Lake Pulp.
- Chris Co-Op Student
I'm a University of Alberta Forestry Grad and have now been working for West Fraser for over 12 years. My first summer of Forestry work experience was with West Fraser at Chetwynd Forest Industries.
I worked that summer as a Silviculture Assistant and gained field experience in a wide range of tasks. Following the completion of my forestry degree, I was given the opportunity to return to work at the Chetwynd division the following summer and fall as a Silviculture and Planning Assistant.
While working in Chetwynd, a permanent job opening came available at Blue Ridge Lumber - another division of West Fraser. I've been working at Blue Ridge Lumber since then as a Silviculture Supervisor, and recently as Silviculture Superintendent. I originally went into Forestry looking for a challenging career and the opportunity to live and work in the outdoors. West Fraser has provided me with excellent opportunities for building a career while also raising a family. My work experience has given me exposure to all aspects of the business and excellent advancement opportunities. I'm looking forward to many more successful years with the company.
- Shane Silviculture Superintendent
I was born and raised in Quesnel, BC and completed my Bachelor of Science in Forestry, majoring in Forestry Resource Management in 1999 from UBC. My first 6-month work term with West Fraser was in the summer of 1999, and three years later I took on a full-time role with West Fraser as a Silviculture Coordinator which involved coordination of all post-harvest activities to free growing timber in several of West Fraser Mills Operation areas.
I have grown my career with this Company and I really like taking on new challenges.
I was excited about the opportunity to take on an Environmental Management System (EMS) Coordinator role in 2003 along with my current duties. In this role I maintained operating procedures forms and records, ran quarterly committee meetings, and completed the yearly management reviews. I became a Registered Professional Forester in February of 2003 and continued to take on new opportunities with West Fraser. For the summer of 2005, I worked as a Quality Control Assistant at Quesnel Sawmill and at the end of that summer I became a Planning Coordinator at the Quesnel Woodlands Division.
I have worked as a Safety Coordinator, a Quality Control/Relief Supervisor and a Sawmill Supervisor at Northstar Lumber before I re-joined the Quesnel Woods group as a Planning Coordinator . In 2012, I joined the Fraser Lake Sawmill as a Harvesting Supervisor progressing to Superintendent working with the operations team overseeing logging and hauling activities supplying logs to Fraser Lake Sawmill. My career keeps building with West Fraser, now, I am the woods manager for our Pacific Inland Resources mill in Smithers."
- Matt Woods Manager
Born and raised in Quesnel, BC, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Forestry from UBC in 1999. As a Registered Professional Forester and started my journey with West Fraser in 2006 as an Operations Coordinator. In this role I was given the opportunity to coordinate and supervise logging and supervise logging and road rebuilding contractors, supervise bridge, large culvert, and arch pipe installation, and provide coverage for log-yard supervisors.
I progressed into an Operations Superintendent position, where I lead a team of seven operations coordinators to ensure the delivery of logs to facilities with the highest standard of safety, environment, and cost control. Today, I am a Woods Manager for our operations in B.C."
- Chad Woods Manager
I graduated from U of A with my Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 2009. I got my first opportunity with West Fraser in 2008 where I worked as a Forestry Summer Student in Williams Lake.
When I completed my degree in 2009 I started a term job in Operations and Silviculture working in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House. In 2010 and 2011, I worked in an Operations Term contract in Williams Lake where I got the opportunity to become a crew leader and worked on permit development in Likely, BC. I often worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin area on timber recce’s, layout, and firefighting.
Since then I have become a full-time Forestry Assistant at Fraser Lake Sawmill. I spend a lot of time in Burns Lake working on permit acquisitions. Some of the training courses I have had the opportunity to complete are: Riparian Classification, Timber/Log Quality, Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds, Cruising, Supervisory Skills, Harvesting, and Silviculture Surveying and Site Plan Data Collection."
- Erin Planning/Timber Supply Supervisor