Skip to content

In Our Valley: Emily Gunn and Michaela Tait

Two summer student workers ready to take on the world
Emily Gunn (left) and Michaela Gunn (right) outside of the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce, posing with the eagle on the welcome to Kitimat sign for their ‘meet out summer staff’ photo. (photo supplied)

Bringing in some fresh faces, Emily Gunn and Michaela Tait are the new summer students for the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce.

Though the girls are the same age and both graduated the same year at Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School, they socialized in different friend groups.

However, when they found out they would be working together, they were excited to work with a familiar face.

Gunn was born in Terrace but moved to Kitimat at the young age of five after her dad decided he was tired of making the commute to Rio Tinto Alcan from Terrace every day.

With travelling experience already under the belt at a young age, Gunn spent a year abroad as an exchange student in Sweden during her grade 11 year.

“I was going to school, learning Swedish, and staying at a homestay. I actually got a grant from the District of Kitimat to go to Sweden so that was really nice,” Gunn said.

Being raised in a small town, Gunn emphasized how odd the transformation was into a big city but was grateful for the experience.

“I stayed in a town a few hours out of Stockholm, it was really weird but I loved it. […] Coming back in grade 12 was almost like a reverse culture shock though because I was coming back to such a small place,” Gunn said.

With Gunn now enrolled in the University of Victoria for political science, she said she’s excited to live close to parliament and dip her toes into the political world and aspires to have an international career.

Tait on the other hand hasn’t experienced the same culture shocks that Gunn got in Sweden as she’s always been around the outdoor lifestyle.

Born and raised in Sudbury Ontario, Tait said the biggest change for her was the mountains when coming to Kitimat.

“Northern Ontario is very similar to life here, there’s a lot of hunting and fishing,” Tait said.

As Tait has always had a love for drawing, she said she began expressing her artistic side since she could hold a pencil.

“I spent a lot of time doing it, there were doodles in all my notebooks in school and I just never really stopped. […] I can’t think of a time I wasn’t drawing. My parents were really encouraging as well; every holiday I was always getting pencils and sketchbooks.” Tait said.

Tait is also enrolled in post-secondary at the Alberta University of the arts, where she plans to graduate with a bachelor of fine arts.

“The ultimate plan is to be a concept designer for games and movies. […] My focus is a lot more on drawing and painting, but I do a lot of digital work.” Tait said.

Though both girls have different intentions with their life goals, working for the chamber has given them the opportunity to establish some middle ground.

In the work environment, the girls are bouncing ideas and concepts off each other while breaking up the jobs. As Gunn is more or less the ‘idea generator’ between the two, Tait uses her artistic talents to help design their visions.

“It’s been interesting, just the other day we were organizing brochures and I have a way of systematically doing it, and Michaela is a bit more of a mess but she still gets it done. […] Michaela is also drawing a poster for one of the events that are happening in August and it looks really cool. I can’t even draw a stickman so seeing her designs is amazing to me,” Gunn said when talking about her and Tait collaborating on ideas and visions.

“She takes my chaos and puts it into order,” Tait added.

Though Gunn and Tait are only within their first month of employment at the chamber, the girls believe they are learning from one another, while also forming a friendship along the way.

Some of their favourite things about the job is, getting the chance to engage with new people from out of town, as well as learning about the many financial and political perspectives within the District of Kitimat.

“I’m hoping that more people come from different places over the course of the summer, maybe even different countries would be awesome as well,” Gunn said.

This summer the girls will be out and about in our community conducting surveys and helping to organize events like Artisan in the Park.

Though university life abroad starts this coming September, both Gun and Tait will be home next summer as well where they will possibly reapply for their positions in the chamber to obtain more experience in a professional setting.

“I’ll always have a connection to Kitimat, […] I’ve spent most of my life here so it’d be kinda odd to leave and never come back,” Gunn said.

READ MORE: In Our Valley - Maureen Atkinson