A business owner, teacher, electrician, firefighter, mentor, hockey manager, mother, wife and one very dedicated person to the community she lives in – Dawn Ohama wears many hats.
Ohama started her career as an apprentice electrician in 1998. She was 24 years old at the time she received her journeyman certification and her new skilled-trade took her across the province.
By 2000, Ohama had found herself in and out of Fort McMurray. Five years following, she decided to make it her permanent residence.
“Since then, I have had two children, nine and 11, and got married,” she explained. “After having my second child, I went back to school to get my Master Electrician certification. And then went on to start my own electrical company (ATT Electric Ltd.).”
In 2015, Ohama and her family’s lives were turned upside down after her husband received a cancer diagnosis.
“I decided then that it was time for me to look at a more stable career where I had a pension and benefits. I was hired by Keyano College as a full time permanent electrician instructor,” she said.
Today, Ohama and her husband have become ambassadors to his cause and take part in Enbridge’s annual Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise funding for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. On a local level, Ohama also hosts fundraising initiatives during Movember, as well as the annual Ride for Dad and the Sharon Jankowsik memorial volleyball tournament.
Now in her fifth year of teaching, Ohama continues her electrical company, while remaining to educate others into her field of passion with hopes to “impact their lives in a positive manner,” as she describes.
As a woman in business, Ohama has motivated others to place themselves in non-traditional careers. In the community, she was an employee representative on the Fort McMurray Local Apprenticeship Committee and participates in the Young Women in Trades and Technology Mentorship Program.
Outside of her work hours, she’s a mentor to students and was a key player in hosting the first regional electrical skills competition through Skills Canada Alberta in 2018. She is now on the provincial technical committee.
Growing up in an Aboriginal community in Northern Alberta with four younger sisters, mentorship had come naturally to her. She credits her small hometown community for learning the value of community and support.
After the 2016 Wildfire, Ohama joined the volunteer fire department in Saprae Creek, and she revisited her home town in Wabasca to help fight fires in 2019.
“This was such a rewarding experience for myself to be on the first crew for Fort McMurray to help a town where I grew up when they thought they were going to be alone in their fight,” she recalled.