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4 reasons why you should consider working in the North

September 09, 2020

By Josh Armstrong

From airports to hockey rinks, we’re delivering solutions for northern communities—one project at a time

Are you looking to grow your career? Just know that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. And just because you’re in a central city, doesn’t make you the center of the universe.

In small, northern Canadian communities, we are making a major impact―one project at a time. From airports and wastewater treatment facilities to sports arenas and pool complexes, we are committed to delivering projects that improve the lives and well-being of the northern community.

Now, our team in Iqaluit, Nunavut is recruiting new members. Interested? Here are four reasons why you should consider taking your career on a northern adventure.

I grew up in Iqaluit―Nunavut’s only city and the most remote capital city in Canada. The average winter temperature here is around -30° F (-22° C).

1. You will rapidly gain career-boosting experience

From environmental scientists to geotechnical engineers, our practitioners working in Iqaluit enjoy a wealth of opportunities to learn, gain meaningful experience, and grow their careers. Why? Because in this remote northern Canadian town, our team members get ample time both in the field and office to work on all aspects of a design project.

The important thing to know about working in Iqaluit is that our team is small and our clients want focused, local attention. Everyone in our office needs to be able to execute the various roles needed to take a project from start to finish. As a result, we take on a wide variety of tasks in our community-based projects.

It may be a small team in Iqaluit, but our engineers are still able get global experience. Although we’re in a small remote community, we’ve become very good at accessing our Company’s global resources. This gives us the ability to build on our Company’s knowledge and be extraordinarily effective in the region. 

From architects to aquatic biologists, Stantec staff talk about the benefits of working in the Northwest Territories, in one of our most northern offices.

2. You will be embraced by a tight—and resilient—community

I grew up in Iqaluit―Nunavut’s only city and the most remote capital city in Canada. The average winter temperature here is around -30° F (-22° C). For much of the year, the city is mostly only accessible by plane. Despite the geographic remoteness of the region, I have never felt isolated.

I’m the son of an artist and government administrator with close ties to the predominately Inuit community. So, whenever I’m walking down the street, I feel like I know everyone I see. In Inuit communities, a sense of welcoming and togetherness is an important and tangible part of life.

When I left Iqaluit to attend high school and University in Ottawa, my heart remained in the north. I always felt like the north was home—and I always knew I would come back eventually. It was almost as if I was tethered to the community. So, upon finishing my degree in 2003 (Bachelor of Architectural Studies), I returned home and joined Stantec.

From airports and wastewater treatment facilities to sports arenas and pool complexes, we are committed to delivering projects that improve the lives and well-being of the northern community.

3. You will make a huge impact working on cool projects

I didn’t just come home because I love the north, but also because I knew I could have a big impact up here. Good design work is needed here in Iqaluit—successful projects can make a dramatic difference in the lives of my family, friends, and community.

As architects, usually we can live anywhere and work on projects around the world. But there are some engineering and design challenges in Iqaluit that push us further. These can include extreme subzero temperatures, little day light, and the need for robust community and Indigenous engagement. To be effective in the region, you need to take on those challenges here—you can’t just do it from anywhere.

In northern places like Iqaluit, institutional buildings like schools or health centers act as community hubs. They provide shelter and security for the community. Like what? Here are three of the many exciting community projects that my team and I have worked on:

  • The Iqaluit Aquatic Centre opened in 2017 and includes leisure and lap pools as well as a weight room, sauna, and party space. For the first time in a generation, people have a place where they can learn to swim—and they’re taking advantage. Swimming lessons are usually packed, and 50 children have joined the swim team. Projects like this don’t just impact the local community, but also the region and territory. For an architect like me, the aquatic center was a dream project. We created something that has so clearly made our community better. It was awesome to see people I’ve known my whole life walk in on opening day and be amazed. The aquatic center is also an engineering accomplishment for our team—taking a building that’s over 86° F (30° C) inside and placing it somewhere that’s -40° F (-40° C) outside isn’t easy!
  • The Iqaluit Airport Improvement Project was the first successful public-private partnership (P3) airport project in North America and a giant accomplishment for my team and our Company. The airport saw more than 120,000 passengers yearly, and the numbers kept increasing. This created the need for added safety and security zones and renovated taxiways. We provided the updated technology, improved access, and included cultural and community additions for this critical travel hub in the Nunavut capital. This project was so important because it serves the whole eastern arctic region—everyone has to travel by plane so the airport is an important destination. Plus, our work was featured on HISTORY’s Project Impossible series.
  • The Rankin Inlet Arena is a brand new, NHL-sized arena in the community of Rankin that now serves as the centerpiece for the first phase of a recreation masterplan in this remote community. Opening in November 2019, the new arena replaces an old, decaying ice rink building. Children now have a safe place to play hockey as part of an expanding Iqaluit hockey program. The arena will also host other indoor sports and community events, with the ability to hold up to 900 spectators in a heated environment. Our team provided full architectural, geotechnical, engineering, and structural designs services for the $26-million project.

Seeing the results of our work first-hand is extremely rewarding and stepping into a building that you’ve helped design is gratifying. You instantly connect to the people and the community through these shared buildings and gathering spaces, and this connection enriches both your work and your personal experience in the community.

From pools to community centers, our practitioners working in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada enjoy a wealth of opportunity to learn, experience, and grow their careers. 

4. You will experience a unique northern lifestyle

From pools and ice rinks to impressive airports, our Company’s impact and influence on the Iqaluit community is obvious. But so is the community’s influence on me and my family—we love it here. On the weekends, you can usually find me enjoying the buildings that I helped to design, whether it’s at the ice rink with my son or at the community pool with my daughter.

I’m also a big nature enthusiast, so living up here is a great fit for me. I spend a lot of time snowmobiling, boating, or hunting out in the wild. It’s incredible to head 15 minutes in any direction and find yourself in the middle of a vast, arctic tundra. This is actual, real wilderness that many people won’t ever be able to experience in their lifetime.

I didn’t just come home because I love the north, but also because I knew I could have a big impact up here.

The opportunity is yours

Opportunities to work in the north are out there, you just have to seize them. Whether you work up here for a month, a year, or a lifetime, the experiences you have will not only make you a better engineer or architect—I believe they will make you better, more fulfilled person.

Interested in opportunities to join the Iqaluit team? Contact Lee Fleming or Kevin Hodgins to inquire about available planning, engineering, and intern positions.

  • Josh Armstrong

    With experience ranging from design and project visualization to contract documents, project administration, site inspections, and client/consultant meetings and presentations, Josh is quickly becoming one of our key Northern designers.

    Contact Josh
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