Meet Josh Thomas
Community Energy Planner & Project Coordinator
Joshua Thomas is one of FNPA’s expert Community Energy Planners and Project Coordinators. He has an integral role with us, working with communities to assess opportunities for clean energy adoption and production.
But how did Josh come to join FNPA, and what has he learned along the way?
Starting right from the beginning, Josh’s home community was Kinistin Saulteaux Nation, Saskatchewan, where his father was the Chief. They moved to Rosthern where he spent most of his childhood.
Growing up, Josh was always interested in how things worked—his favourite toys were Legos because he loved taking things apart and putting them back together. But how did this apply to a kid’s future? Like most young people, Josh had no idea what he wanted to be “when he grew up.” But with his upbringing and childhood interests in mind, thankfully, his high school science teacher encouraged some potential paths.
When Josh described his childhood interests and gravitation toward math and science, his teacher immediately directed him to engineering.
In eleventh grade, Josh’s class took a field trip to the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering. Through this experience, he was given the opportunity to connect with engineering professors, see the college, and try hands-on experiments and projects. He was sold—so he applied and got in!
Of course, Josh’s big decisions didn’t end there. Once he started university, he faced yet another choice: what will I major in?
Engineering isn’t a one-size-fits-all degree. The University of Saskatchewan offers ten engineering degree options, so Josh did his research and chose the broadest, most comprehensive one: chemical engineering.
Chemical engineering was the right fit for Josh because it could encompass all of his passions. He wanted to take into account his interests in:
- Environmental engineering
- Wastewater treatment and finding ways to make clean water
- Food production, including understanding ways to grow meat alternatives or grow meat in a lab
- Biomedical engineering
All of these passions helped drive Josh, and he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.
His key takeaway? University taught him how to learn. The foundational math and science have equipped him in his career, but he found the biggest lesson was not what he learned, but how to learn and apply it.
This lesson has helped prepare him as he’s back in university for his Master’s! Alongside Rebecca Âcikahtê, FNPA’s Membership and Partnerships Manager, they are completing the Master of Sustainability (MSs) in Energy Security.
This U of S course is designed with accessibility in mind to allow those enrolled to continue working full-time, so Josh is able to complete the course and continue his work with FNPA. Another great feature of this program is its flexibility in admissions. You are not required to have an undergraduate degree to be accepted, as they also take into account work experience.
Career History & Journey to FNPA
During university, Josh interned for the PotashCorp (now Nutrien) pilot plant, working in a lab near the university. And for two summers, he worked for the Saskatchewan Research Council under their Aboriginal Mentorship Program. When he graduated and officially began his career, Josh got a 10-month contract at the Nutrien Lanigan Potash mine.
Once his contract ended in January 2020, Josh was enjoying a well-deserved break while casually looking for other opportunities, but not long after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. During this, he got an offer from a mine in Williams Lake, British Columbia, and as he was debating whether or not to move, Josh was introduced to Guy Lonechild.
Guy Lonechild, CEO of FNPA, offered Josh part-time contract work researching Small Modular Reactors. FNPA started entrusting Josh with more and more work, and suddenly he was working full-time assisting the Community Energy Planner at the time. Eventually, the community energy planning job opened up, so Josh stepped in, and the rest is history!
Being a Community Energy Planner & Project Coordinator with FNPA
Josh’s educational background comes full circle back to his understanding and upbringing in small towns and communities. Being a key piece to FNPA’s mission, his role as a Community Energy Planner has him going into communities and learning everything he can about their energy story and energy use. With that knowledge and getting to know the community itself, Josh makes recommendations and creates a detailed plan to introduce clean energy to meet their unique needs while sharing all the benefits.
Project Coordinator is the other half of Josh’s job title, meaning he manages and organizes renewable energy projects.
Josh also has the opportunity to step into a teacher and educator role through his work with FNPA. He continues to learn all about energy in his job and uses this growing knowledge to teach others about clean energy planning. In this part of his job, he gets to combine his love for engineering with his passion for teaching.
Advice to Young People Searching for Their Path
High schoolers are expected to make a huge life decision when they graduate: choosing a field to study or work within. That choice will surely change and grow—as Josh has found on his career path—so don’t worry if you change your mind. Think about what you’re naturally interested in and curious about, do your research into the field, be open-minded about the job opportunities you could get, and work hard once you’ve got an idea of where you want to go.
If you’re a young person whose interests lie in clean energy production, planning, or sovereignty, get in touch with us at FNPA! Our team loves a chance to guide the young minds that will determine the future, so reach out to us with all your questions!
You can even take it a step further and find someone to shadow at work for a day. Our talented and knowledgeable team would be happy to figure something out with you if you’re interested in our many career opportunities and paths.