Phil is a member of the Kanienkeha:ka Wahta Mohawk Nation who has passed his heritage to his two adult children. Cion Coulter thought it would be a good idea to speak with him about his heritage and how it fits with his profession.
Q: How are you and your family recognizing Canada’s National Indigenous History Month?
A: We are spending quite a bit of quality time at our family property on the Musquash River, which is on the Wahta Mohawk Territory. There is an abundance of wildlife in the area: deer, moose, bear, wolves etc. In the evening, we enjoy listening to the wolves howling, owls hooting and whippoorwills calling. Our region has been in a fire ban most of June with the dry weather, but we finally got some much-needed rain, so we’re now looking forward to having a few bonfires.
Q: How do you feel your Mohawk heritage impacts your perspective and abilities as a Building Consultant?
A: I started my career working for an Indigenous architect in Six Nations near Brantford. I learned a lot about other Indigenous cultures such as the Cree and Ojibway traditions, and visited many Indigenous communities including many fly-in communities in the James Bay area.
I quickly recognized and appreciated that solutions to building problems, in these remote communities, are not as easy as we are used to. Often the availability and costs to deliver replacement or new construction items to these areas are absolutely mindboggling; a $10 part often requires $200 in shipping and be delivered in 4 weeks’ time when you need it ‘yesterday’. I have seen a lot of Ingenious ad-hoc solutions made from things that they have on-hand, and you learn that sometimes there is more than one way to find the solution.
Q: What advice can you offer young Indigenous considering a job in the building engineering consulting field?
A: Educate yourself as much as you can, and reach out to as many professionals as you can, then make them part your network. Be proud of who you are and your accomplishments and keep moving forward.