Mothers in Mining 2022
After years of trying to get pregnant and all of the emotional hardship and disappointment that goes with that, on May 25th, 2002 I gave birth to greatest gem of a miracle. My son Stephan. Just like how the world extracts precious resources from mother earth, within me a new life was created that drove my deep purpose for creating a sustainable future for my son and our future generations. In 2009 both Stephan and I tragically lost his father. It was a painful time and my son is what gave my work more meaning and put my purpose in action. Being a mother is one thing, being a single mom and still try to work within a demanding career was not easy. As a business improvement specialist in the area of sustainable leadership, CSR and Indigenous economic development. My work always requires me to travel and be with people, this is not always the ideal situation for a child and my son had to share me with so many people. I wanted him to understand my work and why I did what I did and its importance, so every opportunity I had, he traveled with me, accompanied by family, Stephan had the opportunity to learn and understand so much especially how precious our earth is and how all people matter. I taught my son the value of human dignity and being a voice for social, political and environmental justice. Most children grow up taking for granted that things such as the metal used to make their cell phones, raw materials that go into cosmetics, house hold products and the fertilizer that helps grow our food a natural resource from this planet we all share. Being a mom in the mining industry has given me a stronger conviction to hold some our industry giants accountable for their ethical and sustainable practices. Twelve years after Stephan’s father Walter died, I have been blessed with with 3 more miraculous gems. Through my marriage to my husband Dr. Marvin Thompson, I now have three more precious gems. My daughter Kristian, my son Haden and my grandson Makhi. As a mom, grandmother and a professional woman in mining, I am committed to building generational sustainability through the practice of sustainable thinking mental models and implement best practice systems, so together we can all do our part in giving our children a future that is rightfully theirs.
I entered the mining space after I had my son. It was quite the transition to begin traveling and being away from him when he was only 3 years old. Like many mothers I felt both the guilt of leaving mixed with the empowered feeling of being a woman in this industry. When my son shares that one of his parents works in mining, it is often assumed that it is my husband and he always has a look of pride on his face when he says ‘no it’s my mommy.’ We have had many conversations about what I do and how mining is continuing to look at better ways to operate that don’t harm the environment as much. And we speak about the Indigenous Nations that allow mines to operate and how important it is to have their support. My son is growing up learning that mining is not just about pulling out minerals but there is an entire system that needs to work. I love being able to show him these aspects and although it can be draining (no, exhausting) to have a demanding schedule while also being a mom, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My husband was laid off while I was on maternity leave with our twin infant daughters, Josie and Ellie. We had to make the hard-life decision of leaving our full support network to relocate to remote location for a new position with Rio Tinto IOC. This relocation, also meant that I would not be returning to my Marketing-Communications position at the end of my maternity leave. We were moving to Lab West, a mining region and it was a new industry for both of us. Luckily for me, after a year of living in Lab West, Tacora Resources posted a position for Principal Advisor Communications, I applied and they took a chance on me, the ‘green’ mining marcomms professional, it’s been nothing short of an amazing experience! Team Tacora has welcomed, not just me, but my whole family as a part of their work-family. Josie and Ellie are Tacora’s and their mommy’s biggest fans! Not having a personal support team around is really hard when you have twin toddlers. The pandemic showed us all firsthand, how important resilience is in motherhood. Sometimes it truly can be exhausting but Tacora has given me the opportunity to grow my career in the mining industry while maintaining a healthy work-life balance that is supportive of my family life. Happy Mother’s Day to all! You are amazing!
As fate would have it, I met my future husband in 2010 while working as a Site Services summer student at Cameco’s Key Lake operation! Shortly after graduating with a Commerce degree from the University of SK, I rejoined the Cameco family and in 2017 learned I was expecting my first child while working at the Cigar Lake mine in contracts administration.
When people would hear that I was working at a mine site on a 2 weeks in / 2 weeks out shift in a male dominated industry for the first 36 weeks of my pregnancy, I would often get comments about how hard it must’ve been- & get asked how I ever pulled through. But, I would tell them how blessed I was to work with a great group of guys on Cameco’s Cigar Lake construction management team. They were very supportive; always sharing the stories & lessons they learned and their experience in supporting their wives / families who brought children into the world & were constantly asking how I was doing and if I was okay.
On my last day of work before maternity leave, they surprised me with a custom cake and little celebration at coffee break. I had shared that I was having a boy, and the cake read “Little Boys are just Superhero’s in Disguise”. I will forever look back at that day fondly, and consider myself extremely lucky to have had such great experiences at Key Lake, McArthur River and Cigar Lake with so many coworkers over years of working up north in multiple roles.
I have now been working from home since March 2020 in a project cost control role that I absolutely love, which is a great working arrangement for an extremely busy mother- and am again blessed to have a great supportive team of Cameco coworkers.
I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers in Mining out there!
Hellen Mulenga Poso is a Supervisor under the Modular/Dispatch section at Lumwana Barrick Mining at Chimwiwungo Pit. She is a mother of 4,3 boys and 1 girl. She’s been with Barrick Lumwana Mining since 2007 and has risen in ranks from a Geology Sampler to a Dispatcher now a Supervisor Dispatcher. She does both night and day shifts and throughout her pregnancies she’s never slacked or given up,even after her maternity leaves she’s still at her best and does her best at her job. She’s faced a lot of challenges to get where she is but has soldiered on because she has kids looking up to her,she has defied the odds and has continued doing a good job despite everything that comes with working in the mining Industry.
McGill Mining Mum & Mum of Two
What does it mean to be a mother?
I think this is a very personal question and can be answered differently by each individual, depending on the context. One main underlying emotion that emanates for every mother is love, through this love very mother wants to encourage, nurture, grow and develop their kids into healthy successful adults. At least, for me personally, is what I hope for my children.
I am not only a mother to my own two children, but a “mother” to the mining undergrads in a professional sense of the word. In my current position at McGill I am the mining co-op liaison which means I have the responsibility to encourage and help the students attain work placements and permanent positions. I help groom and prepare these mining undergrads for the working world. In the hope that, ultimately they all become successful humans in the mining world.
In my opinion you can be a mother in the traditional sense but can be a mother without having your own children.
I’m a geologist , in the first years of my career I worked in field exploration and since my arrival in Canada in 2002 , worked as Director of Operations of one of the first aboriginal owned exploration company in Canada in northern Quebec (Cree Territory) . My first child was born in 2005 and since then I started to re-orient my career in CSR and indigenous Relations due to the staking rush in James Bay Quebec after the discovery of the Eléonore Mine (Newmont) in the community I was based . I assisted in the negotiations , worked on new partnerships in a reduced schedule as by 2006 I had 2 babies that I brought with me to Northern Quebec having them in a cree family day care and most of the time with my mother travelling with me . I used to have a booth at the national Canadian trade show every March for 15 years and brought the boys to the booth (it was held in spring break week every year, no choice ) I think everyone in the mining industry who has met me through work has met my boys at one point, now that they are 16 and 17 . I’m glad if their academic achievements and most importantly that they have a good understanding of the cultural and diversity issues in mining through their live experience accompanying me during their pre-school years. I re-oriented my career to a wonderful field that is CSR / ESG when I became a mom and am proud of the experience we lived during these years of their existence.
I’ve been involved in mining since 2008 in various human resources leadership roles and currently as the Executive Director for Women in Mining/Women in Nuclear (Saskatchewan). https://wimwinsk.com/ . It’s inspirational to see so many young mothers pioneering the way towards gender parity in mining. These many role models continue to help bring much needed diversity to the mining industry. It is my hope through organizations such as WIM/WiN-SK the importance of driving inclusion and diversity for generations to come! With two granddaughters and a grandson, I hope they see a career in mining equally.
Being a mother is the most challenging and the most rewarding of all my job descriptions. It has also made me a better worker within the mining industry. Too often women are met with the idea that we are taking a break from our careers to start a family, when really it should be seen as career development. I am an ambitious and career driven geologist and business women, but I suddenly found a new reason why I work so hard. Motherhood shifted my motivation from one’s self to trying to better this industry and the world for the future generation. That perspective is unique to parents and deeply rooted in mothers. So next time you encounter a mother in mining, do me a favour and look at her in a new light because she is undergoing a unique form of leadership training that has yet to be potentialized in this industry.
I am an industrial electrician working on Epiroc’s mining equipment as Automation and Electrical Planner. In the begining my master plan was to gain a great career with equal opportunities and to influence my son to also push forward towards a rewarding work life. This plan manifested and we are now both happy workers at Epiroc. Me in the shop and my son at local mine sites.
Happy to share that I’ve been employed in the mining industry for well over 10 years. Primarily in Northern Saskatchewan McArthur River Uranium mine.
It’s been such a great opportunity to work close to my home community of La Ronge yet have such a diverse group of folks I call my mine family to work with at McArthur. I’ve been proud to have a good work – life balance with my grown children as well as my 8 grandchildren. We share lots of phone calls and FaceTime to keep abreast of all the fun activities they are enjoying! And each time I board the plane home I’m excited to reconnect! Gramma’s in Mining … a career and lifestyle I’d choose over and over again!
I am a wife, mom, of indian culture, a hijab wearing muslim, and an executive woman in mining. I have spent the better part of my career in Oil and Gas and Mining, in hard hats and safety shoes and out at the mines.
I have three kids – aged 17, 11 and 4. My 11 and 4 year old are girls. They are all used to me travelling and having a mum on the go. Many people ask me how I can be away from my husband and kids for so long and how I manage, as a muslim woman, to be in this industry. My kids though rarely ask me this. They are rather fascinated with the travels, the opportunities and the work that I do. They refer to it as “cool”.
The answer is simple though – I dont see why not. I dont see why as a female I cant pursue this, why as a mum I cant, or as a muslim hijab wearing woman I cant. These roles that I play certainly do add complexities and challenge to being in mining, but I have never seen them as preventing me from doing what I need to or being who I want to be.
I have learnt to develop a thick skin in this field, and also learnt to maximise my time with children when I am home. Its not the quantity of time, but the quality of it when I give it to them. More importantly, I want my son and daughters to know that women can equally strive and achieve what they set their minds too and there should be no difference. And its important for my son to support his wifes dreams one day and for my daughters to pursue theirs.
I firmly believe that you can have it all. You define what “all” means – no one else!
Proudly mum and woman in mining!