Behind the Scenes: Sehba Imtiaz
Here's the next in our series of interviews with Parks Canada employees working in Northern Ontario. Sehba Imtiaz is on a one-year assignment as the Technical Services Officer to Pukaskwa National Park. It is her job to oversee code compliance, administer an operations budget, and schedule emergency or regular maintenance requests for all park assets, including trail, fleet, building, or campground.
shoreLINES: Tell us a little about yourself.
Sehba Imtiaz: I was born in Pakistan, but we moved away when I was 2 years old. We've traveled and lived in lots of different places. I started school in Bangkok, Thailand, then we moved to Berkley, California. My family moved to Mississauga, Ontario, 14 years ago, where I went to high school. I was living in Milton before moving to Marathon.
For my undergraduate degree, I went to the University of Toronto to study Architectural Design and Art History, which really brought out my love for history and old buildings. For graduate school, I did my Masters in Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland.
sL: How did you come to work for Parks Canada, and what is it that you do?
SI: I'd just finished grad school and was moving back home. Luckily there was a job opening for an Asset Support Technician close to home with Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP). I was previously working in Washington, DC, for US/ICOMOS, a non-profit and the U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, doing research and engagement.
My work with RNUP allowed me to focus on working with heritage buildings from a more project management and restoration perspective, as well as participate first hand in a lot of processes and trials for the first national urban park.
Currently, I'm the Technical Services Officer for Pukaskwa National Park. I supervise the Assets crew, which includes a Marine Vessel Operator and maintenance crews for the front- and back-country, as well as students.
sL: What made you decided to apply for a year-long assignment in a (relatively) remote and small community in northern Ontario?
SI: My new role allows me to take a slightly different career path to gain new skills and learn more about hands-on maintenance and operations, as well as budgets. My previous job taught me about project management, contracting, working with contractors and consultants, and property maintenance on a residential level with tenants.
Secondly, I love to travel and explore new places, and this was the perfect chance to travel and live somewhere new for a year, and explore a region which I've never before had the opportunity to experience. That's something I really love about working for Parks Canada—the opportunity to take an assignment and explore a new place in the country.
sL: Do you have a favourite nationally significant place that you have visited?
SI: Banff National Park! Even though I only explored a portion of the Rockies and dipped my feet in glacial waters, it was just awe inspiring and majestic. I'd love to go back and explore more, but first on my bucket list is going to Kluane National Park and Reserve to see the Northern Lights or Ivvavik National Park to explore Canada's north.
sL: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get a job at a national park, historic site or marine conservation area?
SI: Apply! Whatever the job, there are plenty of great entry level jobs available. Even if you think the job isn't perfect for your current skill set, or for your career path, go for it. There are opportunities to grow, learn, and explore, and you never know what direction a job or your career may take you.