Women in Forestry 2022
March 8, 2022 at
Panel discussion: Women excelling in non-traditional roles
Moderator: Haleigh Callison, Lumber Trader – Cedar Specialist, Olympic Industries
- Sara Davies, Ticketed Circular Sawfiler, Spray Lake Sawmills
- Geneviève Labrecque, Chief Forester – Quebec, GreenFirst Forest Products
- Ashley Sidhu, Log Truck Driver, Malla Trucking
- Marie Cyr, General Manager, Domtar Dryden
Haleigh Callison is a member of the Hwlitsum First Nation and a lumber trader with Olympic Industries. She works on the Cedar team in the manufacturing division. Haleigh grew up in Smithers, B.C., with her three older brothers and completed her human kinetics degree while playing varsity ice hockey for the UBC Thunderbirds. Prior to making the career change into lumber and forestry, she was the GM and a strength and conditioning coach for a high-performance training centre for 14 years, Twist Conditioning in North Vancouver.
Haleigh was fortunate to continue her hockey career playing professionally around the globe. Having stepped on the ice in more than 15 countries, she considers herself very fortunate to have been able to see the world while playing the sport she loves. Her life motto is to “make a positive impact on people’s lives every chance she gets,” which can be seen with her work in the community organizing charity events or her continued work with the Canucks for Kids Foundation.
What she loves most about her career in lumber is the people she gets to work with, both coworkers and customers. She is very passionate about helping more women, First Nations people, and other minorities to see what an amazing industry this is, and to open their eyes to the incredible opportunities there are at every level.
Haleigh’s eagerness to learn is seen both in her day to day as she continues to grow in her role, in her ongoing work completing her Executive MBA through Cornell and Queens universities. Outside of work and studying, you will find her spending time with her nephews or playing every sport under the sun.
I moved to Alberta from Ontario in 2007. Prior to working at Spray Lake Sawmills, I was a registered massage therapist with a dream of opening my own spa. However, life happened. I changed my career path and began working at Spray Lake Sawmills in 2009. After my maternity leave in 2016, I began apprenticing as a saw filer and three years later I started school. My third and final school year was successfully completed last November. I am now working to complete the required hours to become a journeyman saw filer.
Geneviève Labrecque, ing.f.
Geneviève Labrecque is a forestry engineer who graduated from Laval University in 1995 with a bachelor degree in Forest Environment and Forest Management. She is currently the Quebec Chief Forester for GreenFirst Forest Products which recently acquired the sawmills and a paper mill from Rayonier Advanced Materials (formerly Tembec).
With 25 years of experience in the industry, she is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs forestiers du Québec (Quebec Forestry engineer professional order). Geneviève is also a board member of the Cree-Quebec Forestry Board (stemming from the “Paix des Braves”) since 2014 and has served on boards of directors, including the SOPFEU Board between 2010 and 2019 and the Société d’aide au développement des collectivités d’Abitibi-Ouest (SADC) board between 2013 and 2019.
Throughout her career, Geneviève has worked in various fields of forestry, including forest planning, harmonization with stakeholders, relations with First Nations, Forest operations, as well as in forest management and administration, in its manager role.
From 1996 to 2003, she was the forestry planning superintendent and woodlands operations superintendent at Norbord. She then joined Tembec (now GreenFirst), where she has held the positions of forestry planning superintendent, forestry operations general manager for the Abitibi region and now, Chief Forester for Quebec since 2010. In addition, Geneviève held the position of Director of Forestry at the Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) between December 2019 and September 2020 when she decided to return to live in Abitibi-West region, in La Sarre, to continue her career in this beautiful region.
Geneviève wants to see even more women enter forestry and is honoured to participate in this important conference. Do not hesitate to contact her if you would like information on joining the team or the forestry community.
I was born in Northern B.C. and grew up in a sector of the forestry industry, hauling logs with my Dad and older brother! As kids we were taught at a young age how to hustle and grind, and I believe that’s what has made me so successful and helped me gain a lot of respect as a leader in the industry as a young woman. Now at age 29, my brother and I run a fleet of 20 logging trucks. In addition, this September we started a service and repair shop.
I work in the male dominated industry and I need other women to know that they can do it too! All you need is passion, grit, and hustle! I hope my story inspires other women to follow their dreams and passions even if it doesn’t seem to go with what the mainstream media wants us to do! Majority of my staff are males, and I am always on the lookout for more boss-ass females to add to my team! As of now I have four female drivers, including myself and one female heavy duty mechanic apprentice. Women bring a whole new dynamic to our job sites and with the right attitude and a great work ethic, they really improve our industry. I love seeing the diversity and energy they bring into the male-dominated industry.
Marie Cyr is manager of Domtar’s Dryden, Ontario, Canada pulp mill. She is responsible for all aspects of the facility’s operational performance, including safety, quality, reliability and productivity for about 350 employees and about 327,000 air-dried metric tons of annual pulp production capacity.
Marie has 26 years of experience in all aspects of mill operations. In 1995, she became the Domtar Windsor Mill’s first female engineer when she accepted a job as a project engineer two years after graduating from Polytechnique Montréal with a degree in mechanical engineering. After about six months as a project engineer followed by a stint as a maintenance engineer, Marie began working her way through a series of roles with increasing responsibility across the Windsor Mill, including assistant director of pulp and energy operations, before eventually being promoted to director. She was named Dryden Mill manager in July 2019.