When PhD student Danilo Caron made the decision to return to post-secondary school, he didn’t do it alone — he did it with the support of his family.
“I knew that balancing family life and school was going to be difficult, so returning to school was a family decision,” says Caron, who has a degree in physics and is a Red Seal bricklayer.
He first came to campus as a soccer player for the University of the Cariboo (UCC) Sun Demons in 1994, playing four seasons and winning a national championship while earning his Bachelor of Science in physics. He returned to TRU in 2016 for his first year of an engineering degree before transferring to UBC, where he is now completing his doctorate in civil engineering. He currently lives in Vancouver with his wife Jewell and daughter, Cicada.
“Working in the construction industry as a skilled tradesperson and contractor exposed me to the field of engineering and my physics education gave me some perspective on the rationale behind design decisions. The main motivation to pursue further education was to be part of the design side of construction,” he says.
Family business in Kamloops
Growing up in the Kamloops neighbourhood of Westsyde, Caron worked alongside his father and siblings in the family masonry business.
“It provided experience that only a few of my peers had,” he says. “My experience as a Red Seal bricklayer and contractor is valuable as I approach the construction industry as an engineer.”
Along with the unique perspective he has through his on the ground experience as a tradesperson, Caron also brings an Indigenous lens to all he does. His roots come from the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation in Ontario on his mother’s side and Castelfranco Veneto in Italy on his father’s. As an engineer, he encourages industry leaders to meaningfully seek and incorporate Indigenous knowledge systems into planning, design and construction.
Fellowship recognizes research
Caron recently received the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship for his post-graduate research on how to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into engineering and project delivery.
“Many organizations and individuals want to advance reconciliation through decolonizing their processes, but are intimidated or uncertain on how to proceed,” he says. “My research aims to understand the factors that impede incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems and I hope the findings assist organizations in their journey of reconciliation. By partnering with industry and Indigenous communities, I also aim to build stronger relationships through collaborative research that explores community-identified challenges and addresses their priorities.”
Along with helping industry partners advance Indigenization efforts, Caron also makes it a priority to learn all he can about his Anishinaabe roots, strengthening his connection by learning the Anishinaabemowin language from his mom and relatives alongside Jewell and Cicada. As a family, they strive to connect with the broader Indigenous community at UBC and find rejuvenation in exploring the outdoors together as much as possible.
Caron is also working as an engineer in training with Urban Systems, where his practice group supports the infrastructure needs of Indigenous communities. Along with his research and engineering design work, Caron uses his platform to encourage Indigenous youth to consider a career path in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).