Vincent Boneleye, Black Lake Saskatchewan Canada Treaty 8

Profile: Vincent Boneleye, IT Intern at Optek

March 27, 2023 in People
Explorer: Spring 2023

Being close to family and to his home community is important to Vincent Boneleye. His current job as an IT Intern with Optek Solutions helps make that happen.

“I grew up in Black Lake, and moved to Prince Albert where I lived for awhile,” said Vincent. “But I wanted to move back to Black Lake for my little boy. I wanted to get back to my roots, my cultural background. This is the place I grew up. It’s a calm place; the serenity is nice.”

Until last year, Vincent worked at the McLean Lake mine. Last fall, Vincent signed to be a participant in the new Spark Mentorship Program. The program was designed by Optek solutions and in partnership with PAGC-Dene. Participants were given six months to complete an online course as a Google IT Support Analyst with the help of an experienced mentor.

“When we were designing the program, we felt strongly that the mentor was key in helping the students be successful,” said Kevin Aebig, CEO of Optek Solutions. “It’s not easy to complete an online program completely on your own; plus, a huge part of the IT industry is teamwork and making connections, and we designed this program to help students make that first connection with both an experienced mentor and an employer with a paid internship opportunity.”

Vincent graduated from the program in four months. “I didn’t take any shortcuts. It took me 4 months and I had a 6-month window,” says Vincent. “They told me take your time, you have all the time you need. There was lots to do, but you had the time. As long as you’re committed, you can do this.” 

Part of the program included a paid internship with Optek Solutions. So far, Vincent finds the work to be interesting. “I was amazed learning about how a computer functions,” says Vincent. “Because it’s the day-to-day life of what we do. When I was working my previous job, the computer was the go-to to organize, order, and work on daily activities. Now I know what’s underneath.”

Being a part of a team helps Vincent learn and provide strong customer service to the company’s clients. “In a day, I collect phone calls if customers have issues with computers, if I’m able to assist them, I can do it remotely. If the issue is beyond my expertise, I make a ticket and escalate to the next available IT person.”

One unique aspect of this program and the work is that it can be done entirely from Vincent’s home community. “I’m doing all this from Black Lake. Everything I’m doing is remotely,” says Vincent. “I actually like it. I get to be able to stay home and work and also be with my family. In my previous job, I was away one week in, one week out, in mining, and that was great, but I like being at home more. There was a perfect opportunity for me when the Spark mentorship program came along.”

“We designed the Spark program specifically for people like Vincent, who live in remote communities and have an interest in IT,” says Kevin. “As an employer, we are very interested in seeing this program succeed. There’s a huge potential pool of employees in these communities, but the biggest challenge we have sometimes is with infrastructure. If there isn’t the right internet in place, programs like this can’t happen.”

Vincent agrees that there’s a lot of potential in the north. “My wife works in the school system and sees a lot of potential. Students nowadays are into technology, right? There’s actually quite a few up north that are into that. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot that have lots of knowledge and interest towards technology and I’m pretty sure they would be able to do this kind of career.”

Vincent loves his home community and spending time with his family, and in his off time, he also likes to travel. “I like to go sightseeing. Travelling is my thing I like to do. I really like to go to PA and Saskatoon and visit family. Saskatoon is where I usually go – lots of things to do there. Paintball is one of my go-to’s, but I’m spontaneous and will do whatever comes to mind.”

“I would encourage anyone who’s interested to check out a career in technology,” said Vincent. “I would say being committed goes a long way.”