| AWWA Member Spotlight – Adam Gould, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Adam Gould, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada

Adam GouldAs AWWA recognizes American Indian Alaska Native Heritage Month, we’re pleased to share this conversation with Adam Gould, an AWWA member with Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA).

Name and location: Adam Gould, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. My home is in what we know as Mi’kma’ki, or “land of the Mi’kmaq.” 

AFNWA logoJob description and employer: AFNWA communications and outreach manager. I report to the CEO and am responsible for communications, outreach, media, and public relations activities that support corporate strategy and developments. This includes outreach programs with communities, Chiefs, Elders and educational institutions.

Education: B.A., University College of Cape Breton (now Cape Breton University); Bachelor of Public Relations (BPR), Mount Saint Vincent University; Master of Arts, Professional Communications, Intercultural and International Communications (MAIIC), Royal Roads University

Adam with Treaty of 1752 maskDescribe Atlantic First Nations Water Authority: AFNWA is a First Nations owned, non-profit organization incorporated under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act in 2018. The utility will be fully operational by spring 2022 and led by a board of directors of up to 15 members, including 12 from First Nations leadership and three technical experts. With a service approach based on social, economic and environmental outcomes, AFNWA will be responsible for the operation, maintenance and capital upgrades of all water and wastewater assets in participating First Nations. 

What is your Indigenous background? I am a Mi’kmaq First Nations, or L’nu’k in Mi’kmaw language! We are part of the Wabanaki confederacy from the Algonquin language family. We are Indigenous to Canada’s east coast and the northeast United States. We are closely related to the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet). Wabanaki translates to “people of the dawn,” which is fitting as we are the peoples to first greet the morning sun every day. (Pictured right, Adam with mask supporting the 1752 Treaty signed between the Mi'kmaq people of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, and the governor of Nova Scotia.)

How and why did you get involved in the water industry? My public relations career is rooted in not-for-profit. I was contacted by Leaders International in August 2020 during a search for potential applicants for the water authority. I was working with the Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq at the time as its Tripartite Liaison. I was asked to apply for this new opportunity but did not expect to be the successful candidate. I started in December 2020 and look forward to celebrating my first year – but certainly not my last – with AFNWA!

Adam outside of the AFNWA office building.What is a communications challenge that Atlantic First Nations Water Authority deals with? The broad range of audiences that our department must consider. We work with communities in three Atlantic provinces, which are all unique and spread out geographically. Our communications and outreach must be consistent with each community to avoid misinformation or confusion. Social media platforms have shown to be very effective in Indigenous communities, but we didn’t create a full presence on social media until October 2021 when Communications Associate Lauren Mills joined our team. Lauren has managed social media very effectively for some time, so she is very helpful in working on this communications challenge.  (Pictured above, Adam at left outside the AFNWA office.)

What is a communication strategy that you’ve had success with? Communicating directly. Our stakeholders and Board are updated and informed directly from CEO Carl Yates or COO James MacKinnon. As a team we craft our messages carefully and decide which supporting documents will accompany messages. We try to avoid or explain jargon, use very basic language, and provide the opportunity to ask questions or even meet in person (or virtually) to follow up. I’m an advocate of the KISS theory: Keep It Short and Simple.

How have you and your organization benefited from your AWWA membership? The world of water and wastewater services and management is still new to me, even after being in this role for a year. Though I cannot speak for my peers, I can say that AFNWA has benefited from its AWWA membership in our communications and outreach. This spotlight is a wonderful opportunity to introduce Atlantic First Nations Water Authority to a much larger audience, and we have recently submitted an article on our history and how AFNWA went from an idea to reality. For myself, I value lifelong learning and continuous development, so anything from which I’m able to learn new information and skills is an asset. 

Please describe your family and interests: My family is small and comes from two parts of the province, Unama’ki (or Cape Breton) and mainland Nova Scotia. While I grew up in Membertou (in Unama’ki), I was born in Truro and lived my earliest years in Sipekne’katik (in Shubenacadie). My interests as a youth involved art and drawing. I’ve also used my artistic background in my public relations (PR) roles, especially with creative thinking and generating ideas. PR is something that is “in my blood.” My late uncle, Roy Adam with cat CleoGould, earned the title of “master of Mi’kmaq public relations” through his life and career. He established the Mic Mac Communications Society in the late 1960s, which produced the original Mic Mac News (now the Mi’kmaq Maliseet Nations News). His son and grandchildren are musicians and actors/actresses. My mother has worked in health and as a teacher, which was going to be my original career path, but PR is the road that I took. 

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? I’ve been a DJ since 2003! On two turntables and with a crate of my vinyl, I’ll give two hours of some of the best house music ever produced 😃 

Anything else you’d like to add? I’m the proud fur-parent of a 16-year-old cat named Cleo (pictured above).

(Photos courtesy of Adam Gould)