In Our Valley: Jacqueline Sweet

Sweet said her career can feel isolating in the North, but she loves that she’s able to help people

(Jacqueline Sweet photo)
Jacqueline Sweet, right, at her graduation from the Bachelor of Arts at Simon Fraser University with her friend and fellow graduate, Laura Taylor.

(Jacqueline Sweet photo) Jacqueline Sweet, right, at her graduation from the Bachelor of Arts at Simon Fraser University with her friend and fellow graduate, Laura Taylor.

Jacqueline Sweet has had several different careers over the years, in many different work sectors, but all seem to have had at least one thing in common: they involve helping people in one way or another.

From her first job as a caregiver to adults with mental disabilities and traumatic head injuries, to becoming a systems analyst and helping businesses set up computer systems and programs, to IT and administrative support, and finally to her most recent career as a notary public, helping people with things like buying a new house and future planning.

The idea of becoming a notary public came after Sweet completed her bachelor’s degree in general arts at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and was looking for what she might be able to do with it.

“I got my bachelor’s degree in 2010 and thought, ‘What am I going to do with this bachelor’s degree?’ And then my mother-in-law at the time actually said something about being a Notary Public.”

So, she investigated, liked the idea, and decided to apply. Sweet said there’s quite a process to get into the program, which starts with needing any bachelor’s degree. Thankfully, Sweet had just finished hers and was able to continue with the process. From there, she had to apply to the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia and, once accepted, had to apply to SFU to the Master of Arts – Applied Legal Studies program.

Once accepted into both, Sweet completed the Master’s program and continued studying with the society. At the end of her studies, she and her fellow candidates had to write six statutory exams in three days with the B.C. government, which Sweet said were “brutal”.

“If you finish, you’re amazing, because I think I finished one out of six exams.”

Then, it was sitting and waiting for the call on whether she passed or failed.

“I actually missed the phone call, which I was like, oh my God. And then, you don’t know if they’re going to tell you if you passed or failed, like you have no idea. And then finally he called me back again and told me I passed and, yeah. I remember jumping around the house like a crazy person. I’m sure my kids thought I was nuts.”

After that, in May 2013, Sweet and her fellow successful candidates stood in the Supreme Court of Canada and were sworn in as Notaries Public by the Judges of the Court.

Sweet said there’s about 400 Notaries Public in B.C. but only a few scattered around the North. That’s why some of Sweet’s favourite parts of the year are the annual Notaries Public conferences, which bring together the Notaries from around B.C.

Sweet and the others participate in seminars and activities, but her favourite part is getting to see other Notaries public from around the North and the rest of the province.

“The networking is the best part, just seeing everybody,” she said, adding that “generally speaking, many of us know each other.”

“I know all the northern Notaries on, you know, on a personal level.”

Sweet said that much of the closeness between northern Notaries comes as most workalone or in small groups. Sweet is the only Notary in Kitimat, and said there’s three she knows of in Terrace, two in Prince Rupert, and one in Smithers, and the closest place after that she’s aware of is Prince George.

“It sucks not being able to have somebody nearby,” she said. “So those conferences for people, like us up here in the North, are very — they’re things we look forward to every year because it gives us the opportunity to see other Notaries and talk with other Notaries, you know, face to face. And if I have an issue or something, it’s nice to be able to talk to somebody.”

However, Sweet said she’s happy with her job and enjoys being in Kitimat, especially because she’s lived in the North her entire life.

She first lived in Quesnel, then moved to Burns Lake for her teenage years. From there, she moved to Terrace for a couple of years after high school, went to the College of New Caledonia in Prince George for a diploma in business administration, then eventually moved to Kitimat, where she started her family and chose to stay.

And while she works most of the day, Sweet said she also has three dogs and two grandchildren in town to help keep her busy, though she hasn’t been able to see the grandchildren much due to the pandemic.

However, she said she likes that’s Kitimat’s smaller and she’s able to spot her daughter with them around town.

And, like many in Kitimat, Sweet said she gardens in the summer, filling her gardens with both flowers and vegetables, which helps keep her busy, monitoring their health and growth.

But Sweet said, overall, she enjoys her job, for the positive situations it usually brings, as well as the variety she’s able to find in each interaction.

“It’s never the same thing twice. Everything is always a little bit different,” she said. “Everyone’s a little bit different. Every transaction’s a little bit different. There’s always a variety.”

And, of course, it’s a job that involves helping many people, something Sweet enjoys and is glad to be able to incorporate into her life.

“I like to help people. Generally when people come to see me, they’re coming for something positive in their life. They’re buying their first home, they’re selling their first home and moving on to better things, preparing for their future, making their will — which is a very, kind of a process for a person,” Sweet said. “So generally when people come to see me they’re happy, they’re doing something that’s positive for them. And I like that.”

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