Archive | Women in Mining

Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 3 of 5)

Submitted to the  The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario
Getting Started: ‘You got dirty and tired but you showered… and the pay was good’

Like their male co-workers the women began as process labourers. The work involved shoveling, sweeping, hosing down dirty areas and in some cases painting and unloading supplies. The women responded to the first day with more than the usual apprehension.

“You have no idea what to expect… when we first walked in we saw these flotation cells and they’re all bubbling and its seems like it’s really hot, it was very scary… walking over the grating and looking down three floors…I had never seen this kind of machinery in my life.”

It took awhile to get used to the heavy machinery and the noise, dirt and smell of an industrial work environment.

“In the mill it was really dirty, from the time you walked in you were dirty. Like I got dirty just looking at it. There was a smell of lime, varsol and sometimes when the gas was coming in you’d have to sit in the lunch room. Lots of noise. It’s like nothing in your experience… it’s not like walking into an office cause everybody knows what an office looks like.”

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Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 2 of 5)

Submitted to the  The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD)Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

The Women: ‘It was good money and I thought I could do the job’

It was just sort of a competition one day. Why don’t you go and apply and so I did. I just went at the beginning of the day and stood in line with all the men and all that. They would either say that we are hiring or we are not. … you would get some strange looks too. Here you are standing in this line with all these men… but actually there was quite a few women in the line.

While their hiring was of historical significance few of the women who applied in 1974 were interested in being the first women to break new ground for women in mining. Like the men, they were motivated first and foremost by the prospect of a ‘good job’ at Inco and its promise of better pay, benefits, and job security.

The women heard about the jobs from family, friends and the media. News that Inco was willing to hire women was widespread: ‘I don’t know anyone in that small community who hadn’t heard that Inco was hiring.’ While some women thought they would be the only ones interested in such work, they were surprised to find that there were hundreds of applicants.

Everyone seemed to be talking about the fact that Inco was going to open their doors and I thought here I am almost 5’8″ a 160 pounds strong and I’ll just go and apply… the woman behind the counter said I suppose you think you are one of the first… then she preceded to show me file cabinets full of applications… hundreds and hundreds… I would have imagined thousands of applications were in.

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Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 1 of 5)

Submitted to the The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

Introduction

In 1974 Sue Benoit was a single mother with a five year old daughter living in Levack, a small mining community located outside of Sudbury, Ontario. After leaving an abusive marriage she was living with her parents and working as a cashier at the local grocery story. She worked long hours for low pay: “That was rough because the total pay to take home was seventy dollars a week and I had to pay $25 for the babysitter and $25 for rent. You’d have to be there at eight and the store didn’t close until six and then you’d usually have to balance the tills… by the time you got home it was seven o’clock. It was hard, really hard with a baby.” When she heard that Inco was hiring women for hourly rated blue collar jobs at the Levack mill for the first time since WWII: “it was just like heaven.”

It was an historic occasion when Benoit and other women were hired as blue collar workers at Inco. While the women were not the first generation of women to enter the mining industry, they were the first to enter as permanent workers. With the exception of a brief period during WWII, it was illegal in Ontario for mining companies to hire women at surface operations. The law was changed in 1970.(2)

Between 1974 and 1976 the company hired 100 women for hourly rated jobs at the company’s surface mining operations in Sudbury. The company’s decision was significant because it opened up highly paid, unionized jobs in an industry that was historically closed to women. Access to these jobs had a particular significance for women in a local economy dominated by a single industry- mining- and a labour market shaped by the hiring practices of two multinational mining companies. At the time Inco was the community’s largest and most prestigious industrial employer and its workers earned one of the highest industrial wages in the country.

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Three Mining Moguls support Women in Mining initiative in South Africa

The Townships Project - Mrs. Nozakhe Jacob, butcher, Site B Train Station, Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, South AfricaThree well-known Canadian mining financiers and philanthropists have agreed to donate their time and support to the latest Canadian mining industry social cause. In a “Dragon’s Den meets The Apprentice” format, Frank Giustra, Rob McEwen and Eric Sprott have agreed to meet with the winners of a MEET THE MINING MOGUL contest being organized by the WOMEN IN MINING to support a CDN$250,000 fundraiser for microlending in South Africa. (See biographies below.)

Rob McEwen, who is CEO of US GOLD, comments about his reason for supporting this fundraiser: “I believe in the concept of instilling confidence, causing people to believe in themselves and to strive towards financial independence. Microlending exists for that purpose.” Contest winners will be announced during the International Women in Mining Reception on March 3, 2009, at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention in Toronto.

The major initiative, launched today by the Women in Mining (WIM) networks (www.women-in-mining.com) in Toronto and Vancouver, aims to raise $250,000 by March 2009 to benefit impoverished people in South Africa. WIM’s latest corporate social responsibility initiative builds on its successful fundraising campaign for breast cancer research, raising over $232,000 in 2007 primarily from private donations and companies in the mining industry.

The 600 members of WIM are seeking donations to The Townships Project, a registered Canadian charity that supports microfinance institutions (MFIs) in township areas in South Africa. The Townships Project - Mrs. Kalan Makes Choir Gowns for Local Churches Continue Reading →

Mining Women in the City (Toronto-style) – by Jane Werniuk

Several members of the Women in Mining Network at the WIM reception during the Toronto, Canada, PDAC convention in March 2008. From left to right: Rosario Astuvilca of the Bedford Group, Catharine Shaw of Golder Associates, Sue Hebert (assistant deputy minister of mines in Ontario), Jane Werniuk of Canadian Mining Journal, Pat Dillon of Teck Cominco, MaryAnn Mihychuk of Hudbay Minerals, and Kim MacDonald of the PDAC. Photo Credit: Stan Sudol

 

Small groups, organizations and networks of women related to the mining industry have existed for decades all over the world.  Until recently, there has been little or no interaction between any of them. That all changed in the summer of 2007 when a major fund-raising effort captured the imagination of mining industry people across the country and beyond.

The Women in Mining (WIM) – Toronto Branch decided to form a team for the two-day, 60-km Weekend to End Breast Cancer, an annual event benefiting the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, one of the top five comprehensive cancer research centres in the world. 

During lunch in June after one of the many training walks, one of the team suggested that a goal of $200,000 and taking first place in the overall fund-raising was “not only reasonable but easily achievable” given the links that each of the members had and the size of the industry.  This was quite a feat considering the event had over 5,300 walkers, 1,000 volunteers and raised $17.3 million that year.

The goal was achieved through extensive communication and networking.  Links were established with branches across Canada, the US and around the world.  Everyone was committed to the cause as it represented a very loud voice for women in mining and also showed just how much the mining industry cared.  Over 399 donations came in, including money from 66 companies involved in mining, engineering, law or finance—a virtual Who’s Who of large and small mining firms.  The WIM team was recognized for its efforts by Canadian Mining Hall of Fame chair Don Worth during his organization’s annual dinner in Toronto in January 2008. 

Downsview Park, Toronto, at the start of the second day of the Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk. From left to right: Cathy Fletcher, Amanda Fletcher, Fabiola Astuvilca, Rosario Astuvilca, Jane Werniuk, Catharine Shaw, Kate Armstrong, Ingrid Hann. Photo Credit: Team mate Monica OspinaThe walk was a major catalyst for other opportunities: increasing membership across all Branches; seeking out, discovering and communicating with other WIM groups around the world; launching WIM networks in other locations, across Canada and in such places as Moscow, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. 

The Inaugural International WIM Reception at the PDAC convention in March 2008 drew a crowd of 450.  Golder Associates shared half its double booth at the PDAC trade show with WIM, giving the group a highly coveted base for publicizing its reception.

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Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two (Part 5 of 7) – by Stan Sudol

Women Working at Inco During Second World WarWomen working for International Nickel

Since 1890, Ontario mining legislation had prohibited the employment of women in mines. Using its powers under the War Measures Act, the federal government issues an order-in-council on August 13, 1942 allowing women to be employed, but only in surface operations. On September 23, 1942, a second order-in-council was issued to allow women into the Port Colborne refinery.

Over 1,400 women were hired for productions and maintenance jobs for the duration of the war. They performed a variety of jobs such as operating ore distributors, repairing cell flotation equipment, piloting ore trains and working in the machine shop.

Twenty-one year old Elizabeth “Lisa” Dumencu, a resident of Lively, a Sudbury suburb, answered the call. “Women didn’t normally do this type of work, but we had to do our part,” she recalls. “It was really remarkable, but my husband Peter, worked even harder underground at Creighton mine.” Continue Reading →

Canadian Mining Women Plow More Money into Fighting Breast Cancer – by Jane Werniuk and Kate Armstrong

The Women are back, and they’re walking (well, … just barely!).

We are referring to the nine-member team of the WOMEN IN MINING (WIM) Toronto Branch as they participated for the second time in the annual, 60-km Weekend To End Breast Cancer (WEBC) on September 6-7, 2008.

The walk benefits the Campbell Family Institute at the PRINCESS MARGARET HOSPITAL FOUNDATION in Toronto. The Princess Margaret is one of the top five comprehensive cancer research centres in the world. In total, 4,757 walkers supported by over 1,000 volunteers raised over $13 million this year for the fight to end breast cancer. The Foundation has raised $79 million since the inaugural walk in 2003.

The WIM Toronto Branch team trained over the summer and approached their friends, family and colleagues for donations. For the most part, the team only approached individuals this year, collecting just over $57,000 in about 300 donations. This included a major contribution of more than $20,000 from DE BEERS CANADA and its employees in honour of Faye Logan, a De Beers geologist who lost her life to cancer this summer. Other corporate donations came from SCOTT WILSON RPA, GOLDER ASSOCIATES, EXCELLON RESOURCES, SANDVIK and THE BEDFORD CONSULTING GROUP.

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Canada’s PDAC 2008 Convention – The Mining Boom Continues – Stan Sudol

Ontario Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle and PDAC Mining Matters KidsThe annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention is the premier event in the global exploration and mining sector. The Toronto convention, which is always held in the first week of March, is expected to set another attendance record this year with about 20,000 visitors.

As I jump from presentation to event throughout this column I may sound like I have a severe case of “attention deficit disorder. This only reflects the many stories, people, lectures and events at the PDAC which just simply overloads the mind. Combine that with the networking, business deals, and the enormous amounts of partying and the frantic three and a half days can become a blur to any participant. Where to start? Continue Reading →

Women in Mining Top Fundraisers for 2007 Breast Cancer Walk – Stan Sudol

Front row (left to right): Teresa Barrett, Beth Kirkwood, Monica Ospina and Kate Armstrong. Back row (left to right): Saley Lawton, Margaret Werniuk, Cathy Fletcher, Jane Werniuk and Nean Allman. Missing from photo: MaryAnn Mihychuk.Among the many attendees to the 20th Hall of Fame dinner, one table had much to be proud of. The Women in Mining team who participated in last fall’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Toronto were also celebrating their status as the top fundraising team achieving a record total of $200, 707 for this worthy cause.

During the September 7-9, 2007, weekend, over 5,300 women and men joined forces in Toronto to walk 60 kilometres in a bold display of courage and commitment. It was a weekend of hope, as they honoured lives lost, celebrated survivors, and helped bring in funds for breast cancer research as well as care to those who so desperately need it.

The Women in Mining team successfully tackled the offices of Canada’s biggest mining companies, consultants and suppliers for donations to fight breast cancer and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams considering their late start. Continue Reading →