A Mikisew member and dedicated Mikisew Group employee
Shawn Simpson is an interesting person in many ways, but if you were to describe him in one word it would be “dedication.” He is dedicated to his job and co-workers, to his family, traditions and the land, and to his community and the people around him.
Shawn loves to hunt, fish, play pool, have fun and enjoy life, but when it comes to his job, he is 100 percent serious. Shawn started as a labourer with Mikisew Group in 1993 and worked his way up to foreman and operator, then to site superintendent where his expertise is crucial in making sure work gets done safely.
“I take my job seriously because it’s my livelihood,” Shawn says. He’s also passionate about his job and committed to helping fulfill the company’s vision — one in which he takes pride, especially because it is owned and operated by his Nation.
People describe Shawn as a leader who helps others get hands-on experience where they can grow and learn. They appreciate that he’s willing to act as a mentor, sharing industry knowledge gleaned from more than 20 years of experience on the job.
“My best day is a day where all employees go home safely and we surpass our goals on any given project,” Shawn says.
Shawn is a reflection of the land on which he grew up, which is now being used in relatively new ways by Mikisew Group. Shawn works at the forefront of the industry, but he is also connected with the Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan area, the traditions of his family and community, and with the natural world around him. He has a great love of the outdoors and of having grown up in a small community. He also loves being on the water at Lake Athabasca or on the river traveling between Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray, as well as hunting and fishing with his dad, brother and nephew to feed his family.
Shawn is passionate about his annual family pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne. Every year he goes up to prepare the site ahead of time for the week of camping. The trip features swimming when it gets hot, daily breakfast, lunch and supper for visitors and elders, board games, cards and other fun. WiFi and internet are limited, and everyone helps out and has a great time with family and friends.
Family is really a cornerstone for Shawn.
“My parents taught me the importance of family, whether it is immediate family, community or work family,” he says. Birthdays, vacations and celebrations of family successes are important for him, as is relaxing during a game of pool — a game he’s been fascinated with since he was a little boy following his dad into the pool hall.
“I knew I was going to be hooked for life,” Shawn says, adding that pool is more than a just a hobby, it’s another way to meet people from all walks of life with a passion for the game. This concept of sharing, of meeting new people and everyone helping also comes up in Shawn’s volunteer work, during skidoo races in Fort Chipewyan.
Working at Mikisew has allowed Shawn to benefit from his dedication. Over the years he’s learned strategies that he can pass on, such as being aware of his surroundings and staying safe from hazards. He’s earned the respect of his boss, explaining his ideas and concerns, working toward solutions and implementing the ideas with his team to reach goals safely.
He hopes young people will learn the importance of passion: “Stay in school and try a career you are passionate about!” he says. The best advice he ever received? “Work hard and do your best at whatever task you’re assigned.”
Shawn’s dedication is an example of how following that advice has given him success, both at Mikisew Group and in his family and community.