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Paving a path for women in trades, one role model at a time

Even though women have been an important part of Canada’s light manufacturing workforce since the 1870s[1], with exceptional contributions during times of war, the field is still considered to be traditionally male. Caroline Hurtubise, first female millwright at EACOM Timber Corporation’s Timmins sawmill is working on changing that perception.

“I’ve always had an interest in mechanics and taking things apart, then putting them back together. I felt I could help pave the way for other women in what is considered a male field despite facing some challenges.”

– Caroline Hurtubise, Millwright

After completing her studies, she pursued apprenticeships in Ottawa with several contractors in industrial settings. Upon her completion of the Red Seal program for skilled trades, Caroline made EACOM history at the Timmins mill by becoming its first female mill wright.

“We were thrilled to have Caroline join our team. We are about to celebrate our 100th anniversary at Timmins and hiring the first of many female millwrights is a great way to go into the next century of operations!”

– Joel Cantin, General Superintendent at EACOM’s Timmins sawmill

“The team at EACOM has been amazing in both teaching me about the specifics of the forest industry and providing opportunities to learn from colleagues and take on challenges. On a typical work day, I’ll do some routine machinery checks before production starts – making sure everything is in order – and then adjust the planner so that boards come out just perfect! Once the line is running well, I’ll tour the mill for a visual inspection and tackle my work orders. I get to do both preventive and corrective maintenance. There sure is no routine at my job; always a new challenge to take on!” Caroline explained.

On October 24th, Caroline participated in the Skills Ontario event promoting trades at Northern College in South Porcupine, Ontario. She spoke to 300 high school-aged girls about the opportunities and challenges for women in trades. While acknowledging that women face barriers, she loves the ability to see the immediate impact of her work. Her advice to attendees:

“Look forward, follow your ambition, and charge ahead!”

[1] Source: Public Service Alliance of Canada