Since 2016, Janis Flemming has worked as the Human Resources (HR) and Contracts Officer for the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI). In this position, she advocates on behalf of both JEDI employees and management and manages JEDI contracts and related processes. Her role is paramount to the success of JEDI’s day-to-day operations.
Can you describe some of your roles and responsibilities?
HR responsibilities are very diverse in that they range from recruitment all the way to policy oversight and development. My position is focused on ensuring that JEDI complies with legislation and governance principles and that best practices are followed. Another big part of my role is working with our team to ensure that JEDI employees go home to their families uninjured every day, which is a big thing for me as workplace safety is one of my passions.
What are your goals in your position?
I hope to continue to contribute to the development of JEDI as an organization of best practices – from work environment, to organizational governance, to developing a great safety culture and everything in between. For me, the goal is to make people’s working environment the best it can be – this can be done in big and small ways. The better the work environment, the more JEDI employees can concentrate on the great work they’re doing.
What’s your story?
I was born in Dundee, Scotland where I lived until I was in my early twenties. I had graduated from university and was looking for work, and my sister had lived in Fredericton before while working as a nanny. The family that she worked for here called our house in Scotland and asked her to come back, but she decided not to. Living in Canada sounded like fun, so I said “hey, I’ll do it!” and the rest is history. My original plan was to come to Canada just for one year, but it wasn’t long before I thought ‘yes, I think I’d like to stay here.’ After that I worked towards my landed immigrant status, and eventually Canadian citizenship. I met my husband Dan after being here for 2 years – it’s going to be our 30th anniversary in 2019.
Can you talk a little bit about your work and education background?
I graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Master of Arts, history major. Since graduating, I’ve worked in many diverse roles and received various types of training and professional development. I’ve always had pretty good organizational skills, which lead me to work mainly in administration roles in the public, private and non profit sectors. I was offered my first HR role in 2000, which is what led me to take the HR Management Program offered by the University of New Brunswick and the first of many safety-related programs.
How did you land role at JEDI?
I was fortunate enough to have a really good relationship with a recruitment company that has connected me with jobs that I’ve loved over the years. They knew that JEDI was thinking of getting an HR person so they connected me with Lynn Poole-Hughes and Karen LeBlanc. That was my lucky day – I ended up getting the job.
What makes you unique?
Within my role, the ability to see all sides of an issue and come up with the best solution to what can often be complex problems is the goal. One thing I realized very early on is that doing the right thing for any organization is very often not the easy thing and that can be both challenging and rewarding. In a personal sense, as a proud Scot my birth country’s historical background is of a tribal people who were driven from their land and culture, the effects of which are felt and remembered there to this day, so I came to JEDI with that perspective and understanding.
What’s your favourite thing about working at JEDI?
If I have to pick just one, it’s definitely working with the staff here. They’re so dedicated to making lives better for Indigenous people. You often hear people say “I want to do work that’s meaningful and to make a difference in people’s lives.” But realistically, how often do we really get to do it? We get to do that here. I remember attending my first JEDI event, a graduation ceremony, and I was looking at the students who had worked so hard and accomplished so much. I could see how proud the JEDI employees were of the graduates, and I remember thinking “that’s what it’s all about.”