Nicole Brisson

Water and Tailings Engineer
Agnico Eagle Mines Limited
Nicole Brisson à un site minier
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Nicole Brisson is a Water and Tailings Engineer for Agnico Eagle Mines Limited.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Edmonton, AB and lived there until I finished high school.

I now live in: I rotate between Vancouver, BC and Nunavut.

I completed my training/education at: I have a Bachelors degree in Geological/Geophysical Engineering from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON   

What I do at work

I work at an active gold mine site in Nunavut. This means that for 2 weeks at a time, I live and work at the mine. I get to take the truck on site at least once a day (even in -60 degrees weather in the winter!) to complete inspections, check on progress and to take notes and pictures. In the summer, my role is to manage the water flow around site and prevent the mine water (dirty water) from entering the freshwater lakes and streams. In the winter, I manage the movement and safe deposition of the tailings (mine waste).

I work very closely with the geotechnical engineering team and the mine operations team. Communication is very important in my job. I always need to know what’s going on at the mine site in order to update designs and trouble-shoot problems. Since the mine is very remote and the winter is very cold, there are always new challenges that my team has to solve. There are also many environmental regulations that we need to follow. Agnico Eagle Mines is committed to being a good neighbor and employs many local Inuit people. As a result, we take environmental sustainability very seriously. During the caribou migration, which is about 1-2 months in the summer, all heavy equipment traffic stops on the road connecting the open pit (where the rock is mined) to the crusher (where the rock is crushed  and separated into gold and waste rock).

I use many different software modelling programs in my work. I use these programs to optimize my designs, make forecasts and verify if my designs will be safe to implement. These programs require me to have knowledge of geology, math, and rock mechanics. I also have to understand mine operations, construction schedules and how the different pieces of equipment function. An important part of my job is knowing how heavy equipment and tools work. There is no point designing something complex if you can’t build it!

I work in English, but many people at site speak French (Agnico Eagle hires a lot of people from Quebec) or Inuktitut. I have picked up a few phrases in Inuktitut but it is a complex language.

My career path is

When I was in high school, I loved history, science and math. But I also loved getting outside and spent many summers hiking with my family in the Rockies. I didn’t want a typical engineering “office” job. I completed a degree in geological engineering.  This is a great fit for me because it combines both history and science, and often leads to careers that involve field work. I did a 16-month internship between 3rd and 4th year of university in oil and gas. While it was great experience, it wasn’t what I wanted for my career. In high school I had many great teachers who encouraged me to apply for engineering since I enjoy academic challenges and am very motivated to do my best. Throughout university and my early career, I have always sought out mentors who have encouraged me to be goal-oriented and exceed my expectations for myself. Even though there aren’t many women in the mining industry, I have been lucky to work with many great coworkers and have never felt like I was treated differently because I am female. Having a good attitude and being keen to learn are the most important qualities to have at work. This is true no matter your age, gender or cultural background.

I am motivated by

I get excited when I can see the work that my team has done being put into action. Working at an active mine site gives me the opportunity to see this, every day. I’ve always enjoyed field work – it’s very important to have hands-on experience in order to understand what works and what doesn’t work. Also, you get to have fun with your coworkers outside of work time because you are often living with them as well! I really appreciate working with great coworkers who can make me laugh even when the work gets stressful.

I am also an introvert, so working with outgoing, enthusiastic and friendly people helps to get me ‘out of my bubble’ and connect with others. Fortunately, I have many chances at site to build these types of relationships with my coworkers. This helps make the 12-hour days go by fast!

How I affect people’s lives

It is really rewarding and special to work and live with the local Inuit people! They always have many stories to tell and I learn new things about the area every day.

Gold mining companies are a major source of income and economic growth. They also have an important role in supporting sustainable socio-economic development. Agnico Eagle provides jobs and incomes for many local Inuit people, and directly invests money back into the communities. I am proud to be part of that process through the work I do.

Outside of work I

I enjoy doing sports outside: running, biking, hiking, camping, cross country skiing, kayaking, and more recently - climbing. To relax, I read books. I volunteer for Women in Engineering and Geoscience, which is a division of EGBC – the governing body for engineers and geoscientists in BC. I am also a youth mentor for UNYA – the urban native youth association. This is a fantastic program run out of East Vancouver that connects young native teenagers with mentors. I do really fun things with my youth, like go-karting, laser tag, movies and going for ice cream.

My advice to others

Don’t close any doors – take on as many opportunities as you can and talk to others. You never know where you’ll end up and what you’ll end up enjoying. Find people who you admire and ask them about their jobs and lives! Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do. With hard work and focus, anyone can learn and excel at anything.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Geography
  • History
  • Literature and English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Music
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Was motivated by success
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do

Related Topics

Partners

Advancing Women in Engineering and Technology

Let's Talk Science would like to thank the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) for connecting us with the individual profiled above.

Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) is leading the Advancing Women in Engineering and Technology Project, a Sector Labour Market Partnership project, funded through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement. The project’s goal is to increase the participation of women in the engineering, geoscience, technology and technician occupations through the implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies to recruit, retain and support career development of women to lead a system level cultural shift within these professions.

ASTTBC Technology ProfessionalsFunding provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement

Explore Career Profiles

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

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Job Title
    Geomatics Technician
    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
    Read more about

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

  • Jessica Rideout

    Jessica Rideout

    Job Title
    Quarry Materials Compliance Officer
    I inspect quarries to ensure that they are operated in compliance with provincial regulations.
    Read more about

    Jessica Rideout

  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Job Title
    Professor and Canada Research Chair
    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
    Read more about

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

  • Caroline Richard - Engineer in the mining industry

    Caroline Richard

    Job Title
    Geotechnical Engineer
    I work in the mining industry and manage the waste materials created during ore extraction.
    Read more about

    Caroline Richard

  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Job Title
    Climate Scientist
    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
    Read more about

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

  • Peter Visscher devant un tableau blanc

    Peter Visscher

    Job Title
    Robotic Vehicle Development, General Manager
    I work with my team to develop extreme robotic vehicles designed to operate off-road and off-planet.
    Read more about

    Peter Visscher

  • Amanda McCallum

    Amanda McCallum

    Job Title
    Geologist, Communication Specialist, Business Owner
    I'm a prospecting geologist, a science communication specialist and business owner.
    Read more about

    Amanda McCallum

  • Lesley Hymers à côté d'une pépite de cuivre géante à l'extérieur du musée McBride, à Whitehorse, au Yukon.

    Lesley Hymers

    Job Title
    Manager, Education and Outreach Programs
    I work for an organization that provides Earth science and mineral resources education.
    Read more about

    Lesley Hymers

  • Lisa Phiri dans une mine souterraine

    Lisa T. Phiri

    Job Title
    Mining Geologist
    I examine rocks in an underground mine to determine the amount and location of gold.
    Read more about

    Lisa T. Phiri

  • Max Salman aux commandes d'un avion.

    Max Salman

    Job Title
    PH.D. Student / Affiliate Researcher
    I ask questions to things that don’t have answers yet.
    Read more about

    Max Salman

  • Ashley Noseworthy avec l'océan derrière elle

    Ashley Noseworthy

    Job Title
    CEO/Founder of Edgewise Environmental
    I own and operate an environmental consultancy that helps companies reduce their underwater noise pollution.
    Read more about

    Ashley Noseworthy

  • Edwin Makkinga

    Edwin Makkinga

    Job Title
    Manager, Climate Policy
    In my job I consider the risks and opportunities from climate-related public policy and how Enbridge can be part of the solution to the climate crisis.
    Read more about

    Edwin Makkinga

  • Patty Simpson

    Patty Simpson (she/her)

    Job Title
    Environmental Coordinator
    As the head of the Environment Department at a uranium mine, it is my responsibility to make sure that the mine does not pollute the surrounding environment.
    Read more about

    Patty Simpson (she/her)

  • Martin Bush

    Martin Bush

    Job Title
    Climate Science Consultant
    Martin Bush works on climate change and renewable energy policy and action.
    Read more about

    Martin Bush

  • Rohan Hakimi headshot

    Rohan Hakimi

    Job Title
    Environmental Engineer, Integrated Water Management
    I am an environmental engineer working to create sustainable storm water management and to protect our water resources.
    Read more about

    Rohan Hakimi

  • Marty Robitaille pilotant un aéroglisseur

    Marty Robitaille

    Job Title
    Hovercraft Captain
    Read more about

    Marty Robitaille

  • David Harris

    David Harris

    Job Title
    Superintendent Special Projects: HR
    Read more about

    David Harris

  • Elaine Robichaud en randonnée avec vue sur le lac depuis le sommet d'une montagne

    Elaine Robichaud

    Job Title
    Hydrology Engineer
    Elaine Robichaud is a Hydrology Engineer for Hydro-Quebec.
    Read more about

    Elaine Robichaud

  • Melisa Zapisocky

    Melisa Zapisocky

    Job Title
    Agriculture Initiatives Specialist
    Melisa Zapisocky's job blends knowledge of agriculture with community development.
    Read more about

    Melisa Zapisocky

  • Jean Paquin outside

    Jean Paquin

    Job Title
    Water Resources Analyst Engineer at Rio Tinto
    Jean Paquin is a Water Resources Analyst Engineer at Rio Tinto.
    Read more about

    Jean Paquin