Paul Washipabano1 works at Waapinichikush Elementary School in Chisasibi, or “The Big River,” in northern Québec. Born to a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, he grew up and studied in Québec City. But it was in Chisasibi, where he spent several summers, that he learned traditional hunting and fishing activities.

Pride in work well done

Paul Washipabano started his career in 1999, when a computer job opportunity opened at the administrative offices of the Cree School Board. “As a young Métis man coming from Québec City, I experienced a cultural shock, even though all of my Washipabano paternal relatives lived there. Over the years, I’ve adapted and now it’s my home.”

Today, Paul Washipabano works at the primary school and speaks proudly: “Our community is in the 21st century. Our classrooms are well equipped with computer technologies, including interactive whiteboards.”

And unionism?

The computer technician knew exactly what he was getting into when he was elected union delegate for the first time in 2012. “My mother studied industrial relations, so I understood what unionism was.” His biggest challenge? Getting along with school management and defending members well.

Having attended the AENQ-CSQ congress in Montréal in the spring of 2019, Paul Washipabano appreciates the value of this union meeting: “It’s an important event during which we become aware of realities lived elsewhere. It shows the big picture. I really appreciate what I learn each time.”

Paul Washipabano decided to take on a new challenge and apply for the position of Sector Director for Cree School Board support staff. “I’ve always hesitated in the past, but this year is the right time for me to become more involved in my union,” says the happy candidate, grateful for the support of his colleagues.

1 Paul Washipabano is a member of the Association des employés du Nord québécois (AENQ-CSQ).