Skip to main content
Career Profile

Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

Geomatics Technician
Parks Canada
Hayleigh Conway posant sur une carte des TNO et désignant Inuvik sur la carte. Pris lors de la Journée du SIG 2017.

Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

Hayleigh Conway posant sur une carte des TNO et désignant Inuvik sur la carte. Pris lors de la Journée du SIG 2017.

Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up in Ottawa, Ontario.

I now live in: Inuvik, Northwest Territories

I completed my training/education at: B.A in Geography from the University of Guelph, and an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), from COGS (the Centre of Geographic Science).

What I do at work

I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic. To do this, I need to collect information for these maps. I do this from a helicopter, canoe, or on a hike. I also use drones and satellite imagery. Where possible, I will talk to members of the community. This information is collected in the summer months. I lead and participate in trips into the Arctic to collect this information. These trips can run anywhere from 3 to 12 days.

I use and am grateful for STEM every day! Some of the equipment I use are drones, GPS units, and Real-time Kinematic (RTK). RTK is a very accurate piece of survey equipment.

In the winter months, I process all of the data I've collected, and use it to answer questions such as the following. Did lake ice appear earlier this spring? Why do caribou have their babies in the same place every year? How close are cultural sites to falling into the ocean because of erosion? Geographic Information Systems (GIS) helps answer these questions. The answers to these questions help us make decisions to protect the environment.

My career path is

I accidentally ended up in a GIS career. When I graduated high school, I felt pushed to study science. I decided to study Marine Biology. In my first year of university, I failed 4 classes in my Marine Biology program and felt really lost. I remembered that I also loved Geography in high school, and ended up switching my major. I found these classes genuinely interesting, and I excelled.

However, my mandatory GIS classes were a major snooze. In my summer job at a provincial park, I was offered a job as a GIS summer student. Despite my reluctance about the subject, I accepted. This ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me! I was doing actual GIS work. I was mapping canoe routes and portage trails. I was helping people plan backcountry camping trips and improving the maps in brochures for guests. It was all incredibly fun and rewarding.

From there, I got my GIS diploma. I started off as an intern at a GIS software company. I liked the work but found myself longing to work outside again. I applied for a job I never thought I would get. And I got it! I spent the summer outside collecting data, and the rest of the year processing and analyzing all the data I collected. Taking the chance on that summer job was the start of a career that I love!

I am motivated by

I am always excited to be outside and explore Canada's North. Working in GIS means that technology is always changing, updating and adapting. I find it exciting to constantly be challenged to learn new things and stay on top of new equipment and ideas. I feel really proud when a map I make is used to support a decision. I’m always pleased when one of my maps is used to help my colleagues navigate travelling around in the Arctic. I love telling people about GIS and explaining why it's so much fun!

How I affect peoples’ lives

I work hard to elevate and incorporate Indigenous knowledge into my work. Maps, especially place names, are inherently colonial. It is important to me to use local place names and knowledge in my projects. I think that maps help keep people safe and navigate the land. Maps also help us explore new places  and love the earth!

Outside of work I

I love exploring the land where I live by canoe and on foot. I am learning how to harvest plants and animals from the land.  I volunteer as a Girl Guide leader. I curl, cross-country ski, skidoo and play baseball. And I love every minute of living in the North!

My advice to others

Get outside to practice GIS, orienteering and interpreting the landscape. If you just learn GIS in a lab and doing all computer work you might find it boring and un-inspiring.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Geography
  • History
  • Literature & Language Arts
  • Physical Education/Health
  • Science
  • Indigenous Studies/Languages
  • Computer Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Played on a sports team
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Liked reading
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best “by doing"

Related Topics

Explore Career Profiles

  • Meghana Munipalle outside on summer day in front of tree

    Meghana Munipalle (she/her)

    Graduate Student, Biomedical Engineering

    I am a graduate student working towards my PhD in biological and biomedical engineering.
  • Areej Riaz headshot

    Areej Riaz

    Operations Manager

    I work with individuals and organizations on programs that help address climate change.
  • Tristan Lecompte Headshot

    Tristan Lecompte

    Environmental Program Officer

    I interpret and communicate pollution data collected by the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI).
  • Dr. Bukola Salami with nursing student seated at computer.

    Bukola Salami (she/her)

    Professor, Faculty of Nursing

    I do research with Black communities and teach undergraduate and graduate students.
  • close up of technicians hands showing pipette with blood sample from a container

    Marta V. (she/her)

    Forensic Search Biologist

    I examine evidence from crime scenes for biological material such as blood, semen, or touch DNA.
  • Dr. Paula Littlejohn headshot

    Dr. Paula Littlejohn (she/her)

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    I research problems that affect peoples’ health, specifically in children.
  • Dolcy Meness doing water sampling

    Dolcy Meness

    Nagadjitodjig Aki (Guardian)

    I work as a Guardian for the environment and cultural teachings of my community, Kitigan Zibi.
  • Brock Fenton headshot

    Brock Fenton (he/him)

    Emeritus Professor

    I study bats around the world.
  • Molly Neave holding tray of produce inside growing unit.

    Molly Neave (she/her)

    Horticulture Research Associate

    I grow and research crops in an indoor, vertical farm.
  • Olivia Ivany headshot outside with trees and green field in background

    Olivia Ivany

    Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

    I perform different kinds of ultrasounds on different parts of the body.
  • Winston Campeau headshot

    Winston Campeau

    Researcher - Evolutionary Processes

    I use computer simulations and math to research how animals' behavior changes when their environment changes.
  • Portrait de Kim TallBear

    Kim TallBear (she/her)

    Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience and Society, Faculty of Native Studies

    I teach university and do research on science and technology from an Indigenous perspective.
  • Mahesh Rachamalla in his lab wearing white lab coat

    Mahesh Rachamalla (he/him)

    Graduate Student (Toxicology)

    My research will help find solutions for protecting aquatic species from the effects of heavy metals.
  • Dr. Molly Shoichet headshot

    Molly Shoichet (she/her)

    Professor and Research Team Lead

    I teach undergraduate students in engineering and I lead a research team in biomedical and chemical engineering.
  • Kaitlin Guitard working on site of an aquaculture setting.

    Kaitlin Guitard

    Water Quality Technician

    I monitor the sea water at salmon farms for harmful plankton and jellyfish.
  • Portrait de Devon Hardy

    Devon Hardy (she/her/elle)

    Program Director

    I run a non-profit program that supports environmental sustainability in the arts.
  • Mike Bryan on walkway over fish tank

    Mike Bryan (he/him)

    Hatchery Technician

    I work at a fish hatchery in the aquaculture industry.
  • Megan Coles headshot with blurred buildings and landscape in the background

    Megan Coles

    Pediatric Nurse

    I care for the inpatients admitted to the medical-surgical units at my local children's hospital.
  • Nicole Redvers headshot

    Nicole Redvers (she/her)

    Associate Professor and Director of Planetary Health

    I carry out Indigenous health research and support Indigenous communities and organizations in their health research needs.
  • Portrait de Gabriel Hould Gosselin

    Gabriel Hould Gosselin

    Research Associate

    I support teams that collect data on the melting permafrost layer in the arctic.