Some people have been asking questions about my profession and how it impacts my life as being a councillor. I’d like to share with you about my excellent career and how working for Via Rail Canada makes me an even better member of council.
The railway is in my lineage. My Grandpa worked for the railway as did his father before him. My relationship with the train really began when I moved to Québec in 2009. I chose to take the train, partially for the experience, partially for the cheap economy fares for students! It was great to meet the variety of people from across Canada.
In 2011 I was hired by Via Rail Canada as a Service Attendant where I quickly advanced. Today, I am a Transcontinental Service Manager (fancy title, analagous to the historic train conductor), as well as the Employee Co-chair of Health and Safety representing over 300 employees between Toronto, Vancouver, and Churchill. This career has helped me acheive great personal and professional growth in policy knowledge, safety, communication, conflict resolution, and leadership.
On the train, I am always promoting Pinawa and sharing my pride and passion for our community. When I was the organizer of the Railers co-ed hockey team for 3 years before the pandemic, the whole group would travel from Winnipeg to Pinawa for a game against the Old-Timers and a party at the Pinawa Club afterwards. Recently on the train, I met the Mayor of Churchill, and we had a very good conversation about small town remote economies. As I am constantly extolling the virtues of Pinawa life on the train, so many of my colleagues have come to visit our community. One, so far, has moved and started a successful business here!
I enjoy speaking with international and Canadian travellers, and the people of the remote Communities whom we serve. Talking with people from all different regions and backgrounds is important for building wisdom and perspective. I am always searching to be inspired by people, places, and ideas. Travelling across the country for a living gives me the opportunity to see first hand the different projects that are being tried in other towns and cities. This is very helpful to me as a councillor because I am able to learn and emulate the best of other communities, and find ways to adapt and incorporate those to our situation.
I am a proud Union worker, and have been an employee Health and Safety member since 2016. I advocate for my fellow railway workers. My values that I bring the Local Government District of Pinawa is that we should strive to be a safe and sustainable workplace, from Public Works, to the Administration, to our Summer Parks team. Everyone deserves a healthy and respectful workplace. I believe that fostering an environment to support an engaged workforce is key for the long term success of the organization, whether it be a railway or a community organization.
My number one job, of course is taking care of my young family. The reason I am able to live in Pinawa and contribute as much as I do to this community is because I work at Via Rail. My on board work is part time job-sharing so I can spend as much time at home as possible. My health and safety work is conducted remotely from Pinawa. Sometimes, I have to miss birthdays, and holiday dinners, but that’s the reality of being a working Dad. I love my career because it allows me to spend the vast majority of my time living my best life in our beautiful town with the people I love most.
Some people may have the misconception that because I work on the train I cannot be an effective councillor, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Members of council are not expected to be, or supposed to be, involved in the day-to-day business of the administration. We are not meant to be managers. My focus is, and always has been, on governance. My schedule on the Train is completely compatible with the duties and time committments of Council.
Like any other candidate I will work with the rest of council to schedule our business in such a way as to promote the participation of everyone, and not to exclude. This is in the Code of Conduct. I share my schedule with the office and, most of the time, we are able to manage with little to no issue. I have a fine attendance record, I have even attended meetings virtually from Thompson and Churchill when necessary. I devote some of my free time in Churchill every trip, to Pinawa, making calls and answering emails from the people back home.
Living in Pinawa and working for on the train is an amazing lifestyle and I am grateful for it. As we work to attract more young families to Pinawa, and economies shift to allow for more remote work opportunities, we will see more people with other unconventional jobs integrating into our town. It is my intention to create an environment where more young people can join our community, and to be a voice that represents those that have already come.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and looking at the pictures. Make sure to subscribe to my blog, to hear more about my vision for Pinawa. Thank you!
5 thoughts on “My Job on the Train”
Hi Michael, i have no doubt you are quite capable at work and on the counsel. We need more people like you on counsel. You can definitely count on my support election day.
Thank you so much Gisele!
Thank you so much for the lovely photos and a well written explanation of your exciting place of work. I hope everyone pays particular attention to why you can continue to run for council and that is because it is NOT councillors’ jobs to manage. I am not sure why the public often thinks that this is the case. It causes nothing but discord, cross communications, and disgruntled employees when they have too many cooks who can spoil the “broth”. Well done!
Thanks, Nancy for highlighting that important point, that should not be understated. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures!
Trains will show you the world on a ground level and get you to know the people, their worries, but also their successes.
My grandfather was a railroad engineer and locomotive driver. I joined him ( illegally 😉 ) a couple of times on his locomotive as a child,….
— Warning the following may contain sarcasm—
…anyways,… get to know people, places, issues, and solutions; well, in my opinion, this highly disqualifies you for council!
My job lets me travel around 80,000km on the road a year, mainly in the US, Canada, and, more recently, central and south America (flying there).
Thereby I have seen many smaller towns develop and bloom since 2006. With many success stories, I learned a lot about solutions, approaches, and what not to do.
I was naive enough that talking about those experiences during my time in the Chamber of commerce and PCDC would lead to something.
I learned that people in Pinawa and their “leaders” are afraid of change unless it is something they came up with,…or a recycled idea of yours.
So better don’t tell anybody that you have seen solutions and ideas anywhere else 😉
Lately, a friend and I also came to the following conclusion. Where we come from, If you are the head of any organization or even more than one for 16years, you were a member of the communist party. And as it was the case in those structures, the runners-up (who might have better ideas) would well-behave and wait until the great leadeallowedws them to take their post, thereby wasting everybody’s time!
— sarcasm end—
I hope that people like you and a few other candidates can finally make this stuck train called Pinawa move again. But, of course, it will require a lot of people investing their time and sacrificing time for and with their families and loved ones!
But, unfortunately, I am afraid a new locomotive driver is required too!
I wish you all the best as a councilor!