How Canadian women are rooted in forestry

Meet three Canadian women sowing the seeds of a diverse and sustainable future

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For many years, forestry has traditionally been a male-dominated sector. I rarely saw women playing a leading role. But now, women are removing barriers that prevent or discourage women and undervalued people from entering the industry and moving forward. Finally, gender equality and diversity are increasing in the forest products sector. Here’s how three women from all over Canada are paving the way for others.

Marie Noel Watts

general manager and Dolbeau P & P, Resolute Forest Products, Dolbeau-Mistassini, Que..

In recent years, paper was expected to run out, but it’s very lively and kicking. Throughout history, it is easy to forget that this medium was essential for spreading ideas in the form of newspapers. For centuries, paper has made significant contributions to our progress, the participation of citizens in democratic lives, and our culture and education.

The pulp and paper sector produces highly skilled, motivated and creative workers. It is an honor and privilege for me to be around them every day. Contrary to what you might think, the environment is inclusive, witty and there is plenty of room for women who want to learn. Professionalism ultimately takes precedence over gender. I was one of the first female paper machine directors, but later became a production manager and now the general manager of a paper mill. Every time I join a new team, it’s all about the employees (which tended to be more surprising than resisting) doing their jobs and helping them, by the time I realized I was competent. It took up to 3 months. At every step, I got the job done and was judged solely by my results.

Christine Leduc

EACOM Timber Corporation’s Woodlands Operations Supervisor and Vice President of Forests Ontario, Timmins, Ontario.

As a kid in a Canadian city, I wasn’t really exposed to forestry. When I entered university, I loved taking classes related to geography, forestry, and ecology. What really caught my eye was the idea that most of Canada’s forests are public. Therefore, they are Canadian and need to be managed with sustainability in mind. I thought that working directly in the industry was the best opportunity to have a positive impact.

When I started my career nine years ago, I often felt the enthusiasm of only women in the room. But now there are far more women in our industry and I’m rarely the only one in the room. We often rely on this statistic from 2016, women make up 17% of the forestry workforce, and we can’t wait to know where we are when this is updated. There are many established resources available to assist women in forestry across Canada. The industry still has the opportunity to improve gender equality, but the momentum is strong and time only drives more change.

Sherry Stewart

Owner of Bar S Ventures, Benefits, BC

I entered this industry very naturally. My father was a logger and my family grew up on lumber. Logging is a lifestyle. Early morning, long days, and tedious work. But if you know loggers, you know they are very proud of what they are doing. I take great pride in providing sustainable employment opportunities to more than 30 families while supporting the community. I am also very proud of the leap that the woman in front of me has made in this industry. It is a great honor to have the same torch and pave the way for the next generation of women.

I would like to see that forestry workers work to attract the attention of the next generation, and that there are many diverse employment opportunities in this area. I am intrigued and inspired by those who can see the forest rather than the trees.

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How Canadian women are rooted in forestry

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