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Drill operator encourages more women to consider the trades

Marnie Hunter has found a rewarding career in mining
2019-05-23 MArnie Hunter MH
Marnie Hunter is a drill operator at Newmont-Goldcorp's Hollinger pit. (Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday)

When Marnie Hunter saw a 150-tonne haul truck, she wanted to get behind the wheel.

“I remember looking at one and I told myself, I’m going to drive that one day, I’m gonna work and try to get into this company, I want to drive that truck. And I did,” she recalled.

Hunter was on a tour of Goldcorp at the time and taking a mining course through Mushkegowuk at Northern College.

Up until she signed up for the course, mining hadn’t been on her radar.

Today she is a drill operator at Newmont-Goldcorp’s Hollinger pit.

She started with the company six years ago as a labourer, then went to work in the haul truck that had piqued her interest.

“And then I had an opportunity either go to equipment or drill operator and the drill actually intrigued me. I considered it as a challenge and I love challenges in my life,” she said.

Having achieved her goals so far, Hunter said in the future she might be interested in being a drill and blast foreman.  

“I like where I am right now, but eventually I will move up to it or, if I like something else, I might go into something totally different,” she said.

Hunter has been sharing her story about working in the trades.

Her biggest audience, she said, was to more than 300 students last year.

Over the past couple of years, she said she’s seeing more women in the trades.

“I encourage that, especially Aboriginal women,” said Hunter, who is originally from Weenusk (Peawanuck) First Nation, a Cree community of just over 230 people located in the remote Hudson Bay.

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, she's faced challenges. 

She said it's taught her to stand up for herself and use her voice.

“You don’t have to play that role of receptionist or indoor work or whatnot. If you like working outdoors, do it. If you like working with your hands, do it,” she said.

When she first got behind the wheel of the haul truck, she was nervous.

“Over time, I was like ‘Oh, this is easy, I can drive this, I can handle this.’ When I went into the drill, I was like ‘Oh my god, am I capable of doing this?’” she said.

“Don’t doubt yourself. I doubted myself, and then I realized one day...if a man can do it, I can do it, too. If a man can lift up this steel or hammer or bit, I can do it too, and I did.”

This week, Hunter was part of a group at Timmins city hall to help launch the Big Event Canadian Mining Expo

The show will be held at the McIntyre Community Centre in Timmins June 5-6.

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