Behind the scenes: Shazeia Amer
Parks Canada employs approximately 4000 people across Canada. Depending on the time of year, between 50 and 100 of these jobs are located in Northern Ontario, and include positions such as fire crews, labourers, interpreters, and wardens. In addition to these frontline positions, Parks Canada also employs staff to manage, advise and conduct more administrative functions such as human resources, finances, research, and planning. Over the coming year we hope to profile some of the unique or less obvious jobs found at the Parks Canada Agency.
shoreLINES: What do you do at Parks Canada, and how does your work contribute to Parks Canada’s mandate of protection and presentation?
Shazeia Amer: I am the Finance and Administration Manager for the Northern Ontario Field Unit. On a day-to-day basis I support and advise managers and their teams when working with their assigned budgets, i.e. planning to spend money, preparing contracts, and making actual purchases. My role contributes to the agency’s mandate by providing behind the scenes support and advice so frontline work is possible at the national historic sites, park and marine conservation area in northern Ontario. Whether it is staffing, research, events, or fire management, Parks Canada needs to spend money to make protection and presentation happen.
sL: How did you hear about this job with Parks Canada, and why did you apply?
SA: This is actually funny! I was working for the Yukon Government’s Wildlife Fire Management Branch in Whitehorse, and most of my co-workers on the management team had previously worked for Parks Canada. So, it wasn’t unusual to hear the ex-Parkies say: “back when I worked for Parks Canada…” As my daughter started Grade 8, I began thinking about her future and higher education, and looked into jobs elsewhere. A month later this position was advertised.
sL: So, is the Yukon Territories your home?
SA: No, I was born in Pakistan, but while still a baby my parents moved to Tanzania and then Ghana. I spent my early years in Africa (until high school) and then moved back to Pakistan. After marrying I moved to Dubai. My husband and I have travelled extensively around the Middle East, Europe and Australia. Uncertainty in the Middle East made us look at our options and we applied to immigrate to Australia or Canada. Since we had never visited North America, we spent three weeks in and around Toronto in 2012. Our close family and friends there encouraged us to come to Canada.
sL: Do you have a favourite nationally significant place that you have visited?
SA: Yes, the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. There’s lots of history and architecture there, which I find fascinating. There are so many things to look at and do, too.
sL: What advice would you give someone who is just starting work with Parks Canada?
SA: It’s a nice place to work, and like all workplaces you will have good and bad days, as well as challenges. Initially, I found the work a little overwhelming, but I reached out for help and found my colleagues very helpful. So, my advice would be persevere and never hesitate to ask for help.