Mervin J. Dewasha, P.Eng.
Chief Executive Officer, Neegan Burnside Ltd.
A pioneer in issues of native access to the engineering profession, Mervin Dewasha has worked tirelessly within the Aboriginal community to promote engineering and science as career choices.
Working for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada as a Director of Engineering in Ontario and Saskatchewan, he was instrumental in developing codes and standards, training programs, and devolving responsibility to Aboriginal communities.
In addition to advising provincial and federal governments, Dewasha lends his expertise in Aboriginal issues to PEO’s Equity and Diversity Committee, on which he is an active member. The committee’s mandate is to recommend action plans to integrate equity and diversity values and principles into PEO policies and business operations.
Much honoured for his support of Aboriginal youth, his enthusiastic contributions to native education in engineering and science led to the establishment in 1991 of the Amik program at the University of Toronto and support programs at other universities.
Dewasha has successfully promoted professional development among First Nations’ youth through career symposiums, summer camps and scholarships, as the co-founder and president of the Canadian Aboriginal Science and Engineering Association since 1993. The association plays host to the National Aboriginal Career Symposium, a two-day biannual symposium attracting more than 2000 students from grade 6 and upward from across the country.
Following an unsuccessful bid at retirement in 2002, Dewasha joined Neegan Burnside Ltd. one year later as a part-time employee. By January 2005, he had purchased majority ownership and was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Vice President, Aboriginal Market, in R.J. Burnside and Associates. Later that year, he developed a new partnership, Nuna Burnside, with Willie Adams, and opened an office in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. The companies now provide services to Aboriginal communities across Canada and employment to Aboriginals in science and engineering.