Sudbury

Women in mining encourage younger girls to get into mine rescue

Mining remains a male-dominated occupation, but many women in the field say there's no other job they'd rather do.

Six women out of 267 competitors are taking part in the International Mine Rescue competition in Sudbury

Kayla Menard works as an underground surveyor at Vale's Totten Mine and volunteers with mine rescue. Growing up, her father didn't want her to get into the field but has since come to terms with her decision. (Samantha Lui/CBC)

Mining remains a male-dominated occupation, but many women in the field say there's no other job they'd rather do.

That's the case for Kayla Menard and Heather Willis, who are both participating in this week's International Mine Rescue competition in Sudbury. They are two of six women out of 267 competitors taking part. 

Menard works as an underground surveyor at Vale's Totten Mine and volunteers with mine rescue.

But growing up, her father didn't want her to get into the field. 

"He just thought, 'No you have to go be a nurse or a school teacher or something. I don't want to see you underground,'" she said. 

Menard, 26, said her dad has since come to terms with her decision and couldn't be prouder of her. 

"Now you look at him and he's going to be the first to tell you that, 'Oh my daughter works underground. She's on mine rescue. Did you see her? She was on TV!' He loves it now." 

Menard added she often talks shop with him, her husband and her brother-in-law because they all work in the field. 

"We go home and we discuss how they do it in their mines and how we do things...it brings us closer too." 

'Guys treat me the same'

Meanwhile, Heather Willis has been with mine rescue for six years and works in Red Lake for Goldcorp Inc. 

She said despite being one of four women out of 60 who volunteer in mine rescue in her community, being a minority has never been a problem for her. 

"The guys treat me the same as the rest of the guys. As long as I can do the same job, they treat me the same," she said. 

Both Willis and Menard said they find the work they do rewarding, and would like to see more young girls consider mining as a future career. 

"If [you're] interested, go check it out and see if you're okay with going underground and being underground," Menard said, adding that women should also get involved with mine rescue. 

"Companies are supporting women even more. In mine rescue, if you want to join, not a problem. You're allowed to join." 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.