My name is Kristi Nelson and I am the 2009 recipient of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) award for a Workplace Learner. I have worked for the City of Grande Prairie for the past 16 years, and on my learning journey, they have supported me the entire way.
I was a teenage mother at age 16 and was told by one of my instructors in grade 10 that “my kind did not belong in her classroom”. I dropped out of high school right then and decided I was going to work to support my soon to be new addition to my life, my daughter Mykayla. I realized soon after that my lack of education was not allowing me to do the things I wanted to, career wise. Determined to prove to that instructor that “my kind” did belong, I decided to return to upgrading at my local college. I worked extremely hard and I ended up graduating at the same time that my high school class graduated in 1996 – after being out of school for almost a year.
I was working at the City as a summer student, and continued to attend college as a Bachelor of Arts student until 1999, while I was pregnant with my second child, my son Keiran. I returned to work at the City when he was 6 months old. At the time, I was not a full time employee and I did not want to lose my position. The City of Grande Prairie was a great organization, and could help me achieve the things I wanted to achieve by getting on full time with them. I worked for the Parks Department until 2002, and then was awarded a full-time position in the Fleet Department as a parts pick-up and delivery person.
In 2006, I went to school to become a certified red sealed journeyman parts woman. I graduated from parts school in 2009. I continued to work in that trade until 2010. Then I decided that my passion was health and safety in the workplace. I worked in Human Resources with the City of Grande Prairie as a Health and Safety Coordinator.
I am currently at the University of Alberta taking online, in class and weekend courses to complete the Occupational Health and Safety Certificate program. I am working as a Community Enhancement Facilitator with Crime Prevention at the City of Grande Prairie.
My learning journey is far from over, as I am a believer that “knowledge is power” – Nelson Mandella, and I will be sure to continue learning for life.