Behind the churn of processing plants and machinery that get NWT diamonds from mine to market is a huge supporting cast ensuring the process goes without a hitch.
Justin Grandjambe is one of them.
Grandjambe, 38, is an environmental technician at Diavik Diamond Mine — the largest producing mine in the Northwest Territories. Originally from Fort Good Hope, he now calls Yellowknife home along with his wife and two sons.
His duties align with requirements under land use and water licenses issued to Diavik, ensuring the mine is operating at the highest environmental standards. It’s a varied job and every day has the potential to bring something different - from environmental sampling and spill follow-up, to safely and respectfully steering wildlife away from camp.
Grandjambe says he chose to work in the mining industry because of the opportunities it offered. “After working a number of jobs in Yellowknife, the mining industry seemed like a place in which I could pursue a career,” he says.
He found the opportunity he was looking for as an environmental technician.
Since his initial training in environmental sampling, Grandjambe’s 13 years at Diavik have been marked by a steady progression of professional development and career growth. Today, his resume packs a real punch — largely gained on-the-job.
“I have had the chance to access many training opportunities, Grandjambe says. “I’ve taken the Aboriginal Leadership Development program offered with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology; Environmental Monitoring certification through the GNWT Apprenticeship and Occupational Certifications program; and the ArcGIS Technology Specialty Certification program through the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.”
Grandjambe believes his new profession has also opened doors in his personal life.
“My job comes with an excellent income and great benefits. Soon after I started working at Diavik, my wife decided she wanted to go back to school. She completed her degree in education and I was able to support her and our family though the entire process. I don’t think we could have done that with the kind of work I was doing before Diavik.”
Beyond the direct and immediate benefits of well-paying job like his own, Grandjambe believes that NWT mines are helping his territory in other ways as well. “They make donations to local organizations, support educational and literacy initiatives and help fund community sports and events. These are all things that make our communities better places to live.”
For Grandjambe, the decision to be a part of the NWT’s mining industry has been a positive experience.
“I’m lucky. I get to work outdoors with great people, learn new things all the time, and take home a good paycheque,” he says. “I went into the mining industry to provide a better life for my family, and so far I feel like I’m doing just that.”