Marc-Antoine Richer, this year’s recipient of the $3,000 Irene and Arthur Foley Memorial Scholarship, is a second-year mining engineering student at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. Born in Mont Laurier, Quebec, Richer, 23, came to Montreal at the age of 17 to attend CEGEP. At first, he thought he would become a pharmacist but soon changed his mind and decided to follow in the footsteps of his cousins and two brothers who had studied engineering.
“I decided to do a vocational test to see where all my interests were,” says Richer. “I find the history of the earth really interesting, so I was going to choose either mining engineering or geology.” His decision was solidified during a summer “stage,” or internship, with Alexis Minière Corp. near Val-d’Or, Quebec, where Richer did some work blasting long holes.
“Mine sites are very impressive for me, and going underground is even more exciting,” he said. “In my stage, I really liked the environment. Also, my previous experience as a foreman at a roofing company and as a tree planter prepared me for the hard work and level of responsibility that come with blasting.”
“With blasting you don’t have much room for error. I saw cases where it’s not always straightforward, so you really have to think about what you’re going to do. There are multiple ways to get a result.”
As for winning the scholarship, Richer says he was surprised, but happy, since the money will help him with his school fees and living expenses.
Where does he see himself in five years? “Working in a mine anywhere in the world,” he answers quickly.
“There are a lot of opportunities in Canada. I am looking for a good company and good colleagues. I want to work with people who will teach me the work of an engineer. If it can be in a nice place, or if it has to be far from civilization, I don’t really mind.”