UNB Alumni
Telling our #ProudlyUNB stories

Engineering the future of North Shore Mi'kmaq District Council communities

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Nov 28, 2023

Category: Inspiring Stories , Young Alumni , Engineering , UNB Fredericton

Tyler Patles (BScE’09) is a Mi’kmaq professional engineer and member of the Natoaganeg First Nation who feels strongly about giving back to his community. As director of Technical Services for the North Shore Mi'kmaq Tribal Council (NSMTC), oversees housing, infrastructure, and emergency management programs for the Tribal Council, which provides services to seven out of the fifteen First Nation communities in New Brunswick. He’s also actively served Natoaganeg First Nation as an elected official on the Council since 2016.

Tyler is a devoted advocate for First Nation housing, safe and clean drinking water, and community-led economic development. “I grew up here, and working to solve problems and make our community better is a great way to give back. Being right here in the community – I see the results of my work. It’s very rewarding.”

Tyler has been in his position since 2013, after having gained experience in the engineering consulting field as a transportation and municipal engineer in Alberta, Newfoundland, and Labrador before returning home to New Brunswick.

“I was always strong in math and science so I went to UNB for civil engineering. I treated school as a job – I really wanted to learn as much as I could. I studied abroad for one term in Australia and had a great experience. Then I went to Alberta to work in transportation consulting. I got to travel the province and received wonderful mentorship within our small office. It was a great foundation for me to see the broader side of both business and engineering.”

He then went north to Labrador to work in remote Inuit communities. “It was an eye-opener for me to see the struggles of doing construction in northern Canada. But there was also such a strong sense of community and culture there. I brought all of these experiences back with me.”

When he first joined NSMTC, his department was just seven people focused on housing, water, and wastewater. The team is now 24 strong, with Tyler leading them in helping communities build infrastructure, housing, public facilities, clean water, safe sanitation, and emergency management programs. He was a part of the team responsible for amongst the first two net-zero public buildings in New Brunswick. He oversaw the project in 2019 that allowed for lifting of the last long-term First Nation boil-water advisory in New Brunswick. And he’s about to see the opening of another project he’s managed: the first indigenous women’s shelter on-reserve in New Brunswick.

“It’s exciting to build a great building, but it’s also satisfying to create a facility for those who really need it. There’s a social aspect that’s so important behind the projects I manage. They affect so many people.”

That kind of broader purpose and perspective is something that Tyler is helping bring to the Engineering faculty at UNB. “We’re taught the hard skills of engineering, but it’s important that students see the broader picture behind what they design and build. We have to think about how projects will impact natural life, the environment, communities and people. They have to be part of the whole.”

Tyler also promotes STEM in elementary schools and sits on an Indigenous Advisory Committee with Engineers Canada. “It’s important to mentor young people and encourage more Indigenous youth to embrace STEM careers. It’s essential for resilient communities.”

“The work I do is really about the future as much as about giving back. It’s a passion and I love it.”