Q & A
Women in Forestry
‘Go for it!’: Q&A with tradeswoman Lana Love
March 3, 2023 By Jennifer Ellson
One message (out of many) that Lana Love would like to highlight for women is that gender-based views of what a woman’s career should be shouldn’t stop one from pursuing a career in the forest industry “because maybe someone told them along the way that it wasn’t for them.”
There are many avenues to choose from in the forest sector, and Lana the millwright, welder, leader and most importantly, mother, chose the road less travelled.
This is her story.
CFI: What led you to become involved in the forest industry?
Growing up in a small community surrounded by other small communities that were supported by the forest industry was a factor for sure. Where I lived, the mills were the main economic driver. My dad was a faller, until he was injured and couldn’t continue. Most of my uncles worked in the bush and my grandfather built logging roads. Even my husband worked as a logging contractor for two decades.
I moved away from my home community after high school for several years, and got my C Level welding qualification, but ultimately ended up back home, as a single mother. I pursued a job at the mill to support my daughter because serving and housekeeping for minimum wage wasn’t cutting it and no one would hire me as a welder. Working in the mill was the start of an amazing journey that has afforded me so many opportunities for career growth and learning.
CFI: What kind of equipment have you operated/currently operating? What’s a normal day on the job like for you?
When I was in the mill, I operated a lot of different equipment, before I started my apprenticeship. I operated the bander, sawmill and planer stackers, tilt hoist and lug loader, to name a few. Once I got my millwright apprenticeship, I was on the tools, so I operated power tools and welders. I also got my crane safe folding boom ticket and operated our Hiab crane.
I’m in a new role now, also connected to the forestry industry. At Arbios Biotech we are in the early stages of construction at our worksite, so I’m using my experience to provide input to the operating design of the renewable biofuel plant. I am also currently working on my Fourth-Class Power Engineering certificate and look forward to the new equipment that I will learn to run because it will give me a lot of new skills.
CFI: What do you like most about working in the industry?
What I like the most is how much opportunity there is and the variety of career paths. I didn’t come into the industry thinking that I would ever end up where I am now. I just wanted to be able to pay my bills and give my daughter the future she deserves. I imagine that when people think about the forest industry they think about logging and mills, which are just two aspects. There is so much more.
At Arbios Biotech we are using forestry residues to make renewable biofuels with a low carbon footprint. I am excited about the new technology and the sustainable diversification of the forestry industry that will contribute to using all of the log. I am also excited to be connected to the industry that is still the main economic driver in this community.
CFI: What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being a Red Seal Millwright. When I won my apprenticeship through the bidding system at the first mill I worked at, there were a lot of people that told me I shouldn’t or couldn’t do it; that it was hard, heavy, and dirty work “that isn’t fit for a woman”. I knew that I could work as hard as anyone, that I was smart enough to find a way to make the work easier for myself and that it would be an amazing opportunity to gain better job security and pay. So, I did it. I didn’t even know what a millwright was before I started working at the mill. I got great marks in school; both the academic and practical portions and I know I did a good job at work. A lot of people had to admit they were wrong.
(Editor’s note: The Red Seal program is the interprovincial standard of excellence in the skilled trades. According to the College of the BC Building Trades, it is the highest standard of training in the country.)
Now I work to encourage other women and other underrepresented people to consider a career in the trades – something that they might not otherwise – because maybe someone told them along the way that it wasn’t for them.
CFI: Any advice for women who are looking to get into the forest sector?
I say go for it! There are a lot of different avenues into the forest sector. You could get an academic education for various roles – administrative or technical, you could get a trade and work in the mills as a skilled tradesperson, or you could start in the mill in a production role, and there are so many opportunities from there. Where you start isn’t necessarily where you will end up and, in the meantime, you will have a great job where you will earn good money and learn useful skills.
This article is part of CFI, Pulp & Paper Canada and Canadian Biomass’ Women in Forestry series, an annual celebration of women in the industry. Find more content here and follow us on social media with the hashtag: #WomeninForestry.
Remember to join us for the Women in Forestry Virtual Summit on Mar. 7 at 11 am ET/8 am PT! It’s FREE to register. Sign up now!
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