Provincial Engineering & Geoscience Week


A Salute to Professional Engineers & Geoscientists

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TheFWSGroupofCompaniesleadsthe industry in design-build construction. With over 60 years of industry experience, our knowledge allows us to provide a wide range of bulk material handling and storage solutions. FWSGroupofCompanies W I N N I P E G | C A L G A R Y | V A N C O U V E R | F A R G O 475DovercourtDrive Winnipeg,MB R3Y1G4 Phone:1-800-553-0007 ByJenniferMcFeefortheFreePress A group of engineers educated in the Philippines made history while also paving the way for other professionals trained in their home country. It all began in 2009 with the formation of an organization to represent the interests of Filipino-Canadian members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (APEGM). With the signing of the constitution and bylaws in 2011, the Filipino Members Chapter became the first APEGM chapter with members from a specific ethnic group. Edwin Sapnu, president of the Filipino Members Chapter, recalls how he felt when he moved to Canada in 2000. "I didn't have anyone to talk to because I didn't know anyone. I wondered how I could do this by myself. It's difficult when you do it alone," said Sapnu, an electrical engineer. "Prior to migration, I was working abroad already for 13 years in Papua New Guinea next to Australia. It wasn't strange for me to work in a foreign land, but you have to do your part." Sapnu challenged his exams and also participated in a work-based interview in front of a panel of professionals. Over time, he met up with other Philippines-trained engineers who had also overcome obstacles to become qualified in Canada. "The core group of us have gone different routes to obtain the Canadian professional engineering designation. And we encountered some obstacles on how to get it done. We thought about our community groups and how we could help them and how we could assist the organization," he said. "So we asked if we could be an extension arm of the association to reach out and help the immigrants. We should be able to assist them in a way by sharing what we've gone through and imparting some of our experiences, which will lighten the burden to proceed. We don't want this process to be a deterrent for the upgrading of their profession." To date, the Filipino Members Chapter has 141 members. This includes 48 full members who are registered as engineers in Manitoba and 49 student members who are in the process of completing the academic requirements to become registered in Manitoba. The remaining members are lay associates who are not yet registered with APEGM. "It's a big jump from way back in 2009 when we were only a few," Sapnu said. "It started with around five of us, very minimal. Through the help of the association, they have approved the chapter, called the Filipino Members Chapter of APEGM. And from there, we decided to help out the association by doing our best to assist newcomers." To organize tasks, the Filipino Members Chapter has created several different committees, such as the newcomers committee, the mentorship committee and the networking committee. "This was not overnight. It took us a while to get to this stage. It's a challenge to our chapter to make sure that we have the energy level to help out," he said. "There is no application fee, but there is a process. From Day 1, they should show us their desire to be part of the group so that we can help them out. We need their commitment." Although the Filipino Members Chapter was the first APEGM chapter for a specific ethnic group, more could be coming soon. "One of my jobs as the president is to communicate with other professional engineers. I've been talking to friends from the Chinese community, the Vietnamese community and the Colombian community," Sapnu said. "I think the Chinese Chapter is on its way." With a wealth of experience to share, Sapnu continues to mentor other Philippines-trained engineers who want to become licensed in Manitoba. "It's not easy. People have to be willing and they have to sacrifice time. They have to make sure to talk to their families and that they're all on one page, that they are doing this all together because you need everyone's support," he said. "You will hear lots of different stories. I tell them if there's a little bit of pain now, you will have a big gain later. Your retirement is at the age of 65, and if you are still young now, you will reap your harvest." For more information about the Filipino Members Chapter, visit or e-mail Sapnu at Filipino Members Chapter offers helping hand Edwin Sapnu with his wife Ramila. (Submitted photos)

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