By Rick Garrick
Red Rock Indian Band’s Cameron Hartman was recently presented with an Ontario Power Generation John Wesley Beaver Memorial Student Award. The fourth-year University of Ottawa student, who is studying Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Power and Sustainable Energies, plans to pursue a career in clean and renewable energy with a focus on remote First Nation communities.
“My understanding is that renewable energies is the way to go in terms of giving back to the Earth and helping to lower carbon emissions and lower the actual damage it has done to the Earth,” Hartman says. “That is one of the reasons why I chose renewables, but also I’ve had experiences with Hydro One during my first year and I was really interested in some of the projects they were doing with remote First Nation communities and some of the smaller projects on their current power implementation there and improvements they could make and challenges they were dealing with because it was a remote First Nation community.”
Hartman says one of the issues with renewable energies in remote communities is energy storage.
“How do you store that energy so it can be used later, because you are dealing with completely different types of issues when you go remote,” Hartman says. “I really enjoy a challenge, but it is not so much a challenge as it is an opportunity for me to really use everything I’ve gained in school and just kind of give it back to my community and to those communities who need it.”
Hartman says he is currently working on a project at the University of Ottawa’s SUNLAB Solar Research Lab on infrastructure to help with the tracking of energy usage.
“So people can see exactly where the energy usage is high and what exactly is using that energy and when so they can start to take a look at it and start to decrease their energy emissions and energy usage in those specific areas,” Hartman says.
Hartman says the opportunity to work in the SUNLAB Solar Research Lab has been an “amazing experience.”
“There have been a lot of things that I’ve learned that will help me in my career when it comes to projects that I want to do on my own,” Hartman says. “And just learning from people who are super-enthusiastic about what they are doing and how it is helping has been really awesome.”
Hartman previously worked as a practical nurse before he chose to change careers and study Electrical Engineering.
“My background has been in healthcare,” Hartman says. “A lot of the stuff I was always interested in was holistic care and looking at issues in health from a wider perspective, for a holistic perspective, and a lot of times from a First Nations perspective.”
Bryer Twiss, a Métis Nation of Ontario citizen from Thunder Bay, also received an OPG John Wesley Beaver Memorial Student Award. She plans to study at Lakehead University this fall after completing a three-year Business Administration diploma at Confederation College.
“These awards highlight Ontario Power Generation’s commitment to supporting Indigenous youth pursing higher education,” says Jeff Lyash, OPG’s president and CEO. “On behalf of Ontario Power Generation, I congratulate both Bryer and Cameron on their exceptional academic achievements and commitment to their communities.”
Hartman says the award will help him to concentrate more on his studies.
“It’s a crazy relief,” Hartman says. “This award has given me that room to breathe, to be able to succeed in my classes and at the same time to have that financial support.”