Certified maintenance workers at the Kativik School Board in Kuujjuaq Donald Watt and Patrick Larivière1 know something about these challenges. “When it’s -50 °C and the heating system stops working, we need to react quickly,” explains Patrick Larivière. “If we don’t respond to the emergency, water pipes will burst, which will create important damage to buildings,” adds Donald Watt.

The Kativik School Board manages over 200 facilities and residences dedicated to schooling and to personnel from outside the region.

Working by thinking about others

The big motivation for both workers: avoid a school closure. To do that, they establish priorities and work on preventative maintenance of heating systems.

“All that we do, it’s for the children of Northern Quebec. We want to help them get a good education,” says Patrick Larivière. Donald Watt agrees: “By having facilities in good shape, we encourage the students to stay in class. And to do that, we need, at a minimum, for the schools to stay open.”

Different needs in summer

When warmth comes back to Kuujjuaq, the workers focus on maintenance and replacement of some heating units. With the help of some students, they also carry out some other types of work. “For example, kids help us paint or unload containers we only get in summer,” indicates Patrick Larivière.

Donald Watt is grateful of this help: “It gives us a chance to show them the importance of our work so they can maybe consider this career opportunity. They enjoy a rewarding experience where they feel they make a difference.”

Despite the rigorous climate and emergencies that can arise at any hour, day or night, Donald Watt and Patrick Larivière work together and always in good spirit.

1 Donald Watt and Patrick Larivière are members of Association of Employees of Northern Quebec (AENQ-CSQ).