While National Aboriginal Day was officially on Monday, celebrations have been happening all week long and will continue until Sunday, June 27th. These events are a chance for all Canadians to celebrate the cultures and contributions to Canada of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. This year’s theme is “Power of Youth, Wisdom of Elders. Setting aside a day for Aboriginal Peoples is part of the wider recognition of Aboriginal Peoples’ important place within the fabric of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First Peoples.
Recognizing these contributions is important to the City, and with the support of the Aboriginal Relations Office (ARO) we try to do so all year long. The ARO publishes an annual newsletter called The Bridge that highlights some of the special initiatives and partnerships the City has undertaken throughout the year to help build and sustain relations with urban Aboriginal people.
One of the great stories we highlighted this year was about Kerry Kaboni, the first ever woman supervisor for Playground & Utilities.
Groundbreaking Achievement Kerry Kaboni, first ever woman supervisor for Playgrounds & Utilities
It’s been 18 years since Kerry Kaboni started working at the City and her sense of commitment to the place grows stronger every year. “I took advantage of the education and training that the City offers to employees to compliment my previous education. I kept pushing for something better and eventually I made it,” she beams.
Kaboni is the first ever woman supervisor for Playgrounds/Utilities at the City.
Three years ago, and after 15 years as a provisional seasonal worker, she moved to the full-time, permanent position that has her leading a Playground and Infrastructure Maintenance team of 14 people. Together they do playground inspections and repairs, minor landscaping, park furniture repair, chain link fence repair and bollard/bumper post installation.
We first met with Kerry back when there was still ice on the City Hall fountain. While the ice rink has transformed into a pool for the summer months, Kerry is still responsible for supervising crews that provides maintenance throughout the year, whether it be operating a zamboni or the safe installation of playground equipment.
A Canadian certified playground inspector, she also assists in park/playground development with City of Edmonton landscape architects, planners and community project managers in ensuring equipment and amenities in City parks are safely installed. She also works closely with community recreational coordinators to establish community needs.
Kaboni began her journey with the City in 1992. She worked as a seasonal employee from April to August each year and studied during the other months. “It was a friendly place for students,” she recalls. When she decided to go on to university, she found her employers quite willing to accommodate her. “Even today, I am still grateful for that and I feel I still need to give something more back to the City.”
Kaboni completed a Commerce degree in Human Resources at the University of Alberta. “When I graduated, I didn’t have visions of grandeur. I often say I grew up in steel toe boots so if I ever did pursue HR jobs, I wasn’t sure how I’d fit into the office attire,” she jokes. That said, she has a desire for new experiences. “I’d like to take on new challenges. I want the management that hired me to see that I’m not just willing to stay where I am but that I’m willing to go other places and move around.”
Married for eight years and a mother of one son, Kaboni wants her life to be an inspiration to her son. “I’m big on schooling. If you were to talk to my son he would tell you that his job in my house is to get an education” she says laughing. That is no surprise given her family’s history of outstanding academic achievement. “My entire family has been an inspiration. I saw all of my family go on to higher learning. I have relatives who have been successful in a variety of prestigious careers.”
Born in Lansing, Michigan, USA, and a member of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve in Ontario, Kaboni lost her mom at age 13. She has taken one major positive from that painful experience, “It brought us closer to our dad and made us more focused” she says of herself and her three sisters.
“I think everything happens for a reason. I was put on a path and I just can’t wait to see tomorrow.”