Athabasca Summer Students, managers play traditional Dene hand games 

November 14, 2023 in People
Explorer: Fall 2023

On June 29, summer students from the Athabasca region and their managers had an opportunity to gather together for a team building event organized by one of the summer students, Allison Strong from Stony Rapids. 

Elder John Toutsaint from Black Lake led the day with an opening prayer and gave opening remarks to the group. Participants introduced themselves and everyone learned a bit more about each other, the program, participating companies and employment opportunities. Sascha Sasbrink-Harkema, the CEO of Athabasca Basin Security, talked about her journey from summer student to CEO and gave advice to the group on how to take advantage of their summer job opportunity. 

The day ended with John Toutsaint teaching everyone how to play traditional Dene hand games. The version the group learned was an introductory “beginner” version. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had at a workshop,” says Kristine McWilliam, Controller at Athabasca Basin Development. “The laughter and positive energy in the room – it was the best! Thank you to Elder John Toutsaint for sharing your knowledge and your patience as you taught us some of the basics of Dene hand games.” 

“It was so great to gather all the Athabasca summer students together along with their managers for a day of networking,” says Rochelle Robillard, Athabasca Basin Development & Security’s Administration summer student. “I enjoyed all the learning today and getting to know everyone.” 

The Athabasca Summer Student program began in 2021. All of Athabasca Basin Development’s investments are invited to participate. Interested companies submit summer job opportunities and Athabasca Basin Development’s staff is responsible for recruiting, matching interested candidates with opportunities that fit most closely with their goals, interests and experience. There are a wide variety of positions available each year, including IT, labourer, marketing, facilities, finance, admin, warehouse, and more. This year’s program employed nine students from the Athabasca region in the south and five students in the north. Participating organizations included Athabasca Basin Security, Flyer Electric, Rise Air, Points Athabasca, Optek Solutions, Points North, and Black Lake Ventures. Some positions available at Rise Air, Team Drilling, Arctic Beverages, and Tru North were not filled because there were more positions available than applicants. 

Special thank you to Prince Albert Grand Council – Dene, who has been a significant funding partner for the program since its inception.