Paul Joseph Otis is a proud member of “Lac Seul First Nation” and has devoted his career to working with water and environmental resources supporting its protection and excellence in management. He was the only student in the Convocation Class of 99 at “Sault College of Applied Arts & Technology – School of Natural Resources” to graduate with three technical diplomas: Aboriginal Resource Technician, Fish & Wildlife Technician, and Forestry Technician to launch his career. Paul was attracted to this hub area of the Great Lakes and to the college’s “Indigenous Centre-Enji Maawnijiding” where he was embraced, supported and mentored by its indigenous staff (Nolan/Simoncini). He received many traditional teachings there: highlighted and influenced with a “Water Drum Ceremony, and especially when he met and was consulted by a former “National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations” with the message; “Paul, remember the power to recreate ourselves”.
This education made a lasting impression shaping his vision and mission to return to his family’s home territory and continue to learn the ways of the Anishinawbe. One of his greatest accomplishments and decisions came when he was offered a career position with the “Ministry of the Environment” as one of its inaugural drinking water inspectors, in which he turned down to accept a position as a Circuit Rider Trainer with the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation. Paul worked passionately as a CRT building a reputation that was acknowledged with his recruitment to become the first and only indigenous manager of the “Keewaytinook Center of Excellence” with Keewaytinook Okimakanak- Northern Chiefs Council. His work there led him to create and found a GED Preparation Program, and an innovational First Nations Water HUB Service Corporation promoting homegrown solutions, while building capacity and producing inaugural First Nation Overall Responsible Operators.
Paul would return to OFNTSC for a second time to become the first-ever Senior CRT helping grow the CRTP with many great accomplishments before he was sought-after by the Bimose Tribal Council to build a water program and strengthen its technical department in this regard, as a Technical Services Officer. Once again, he helped build a successful indigenous team to provide water services for their home communities via the tribal council, CRTP and HUB.
After an unfortunate layoff from First Nations, Paul engaged in a professional sabbatical furthering his experience working in very large, highly classed operations in the province with one of the largest multi-national corporations in the world in water, and subsequently with the largest water operating authority in Canada. He acquired extensive knowledge and understanding working with and in these systems on the shores of Lake Huron, but now has circled back to where he began his journey, now as a “HUB Process Technician/Coordinator” with OFNTSC. Paul is humble in his return to these rapids at this time, but is empowered to help our First Nations achieve success in managing its waters to be the safest, most aesthetically pleasing and efficiently produced, in concert with protecting the environment and utilizing cultural ecological traditions and knowledge.