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Gender Equality Week: Chat with a Sawmill Operator

Madi was working as a janitor at her local college when she met a professor who encouraged her to pursue an education in welding. She was intrigued, and decided to give it a try. She earned her welding certification and began working at our Atikokan (Ontario) sawmill in June, 2017. Currently a level 2 operator, Madi has had the opportunity to try every position throughout the sawline, and her welding skills are still coming in handy for small jobs around the mill.

She appreciates how her job fits into her personal life. ”My boyfriend also works at Atikokan as a sawfiler. We work opposite shifts, which is perfect as someone is always at home with the dogs. It makes the weekend that much more enjoyable when we aren’t working overtime. Being from Atikokan, I enjoy anything outdoors. Fishing is my go-to hobby – I love bass fishing! Hockey is a huge sport for me as well. I love going to the outdoor rink, and Sportsnet is always on our TV. Besides that, I like to weld little projects with my buddy, Lortie, and hang out with my boyfriend and the dogs. I enjoy a simple life.”

Madi acknowledges that she felt apprehensive about embarking on a career in forest products. ”I was scared to jump into a man’s world”, she says. ”But there are so many supportive people here. My advice to women would be to try any trade. You don’t need to be in forestry to work at a mill. The industry needs millwrights, electricians, human resource professionals and welders. There are so many different trades in the forest products industry, so just GO FOR IT! I’ve learned so much in a year, and I know there are more opportunities to explore.”

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