Cultural Identity and a Confident Mindset
Published June 21, 2021 by Suncor
Sitting in her apartment in Thunder Bay, Ont., Jacey Bonertz recently started her work term through Suncor’s Indigenous Student Program. Jacey is working with the Asset Integrity Team, which ensures pipelines are functioning safely and as they should, until the end of August as part of her studies with Lakehead University.
This is Jacey’s third work term within the Indigenous Student Program. Her first placement was in 2018 when she was placed in Fort McMurray as an engineering diploma student.
“I was terrified to say the least about coming into my role with Suncor for so many reasons,” explains Jacey. “I worried I wasn’t Indigenous enough for the Indigenous Student Program, I didn’t feel smart enough to be an engineer and I was worried about being in a new town where I didn’t know anyone.”
Jacey’s worries were soon gone when she met other students in the program. They developed a hard and fast bond over shared experiences and worries.
“That 2018 placement was a turning point for me and my identity,” says Jacey. “It was the first time my feelings were validated. I really felt like I wasn’t alone. I ended up making my best friends that summer, all through the Indigenous Student Program.”
Born and raised in Pincher Creek, Alta., Jacey is a member of the Piikani Nation—part of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Southern Alberta. While she grew up near the reserve and spent time there, she says she wasn’t really connected to her culture.
Her Indigenous roots stem from her maternal grandfather, who was a residential school survivor and passed away long before Jacey was born. As a result, Jacey didn’t receive the traditional knowledge her grandfather would have passed down to her. And when Jacey’s own father passed away when she was young, she clung to his non-Indigenous side of the family.
Continue reading about Jacey's journey to become a successful engineer, and Suncor's indigenous student program here.