June/July 2014

Letters to the editor

A call to action

In Maureen Jensen’s interview (“The pioneer spirit,” March/April 2014), when asked about the barriers women face, she said the business has fewer women and the numbers are changing. She also said graduating classes are equally split between men and women. In engineering, the split is not equal – only 19.2 per cent of women are enrolled in engineering programs in Canada. The highest enrollment was in 2001 at 20.7 per cent; however, according to the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering, the percentage of women has been in decline since then, averaging 17-18 per cent for the last five years.

I agree with Ms. Jensen that diversity in a workforce is needed; however companies need to do more than just talk, they need to take action. A first step may be for a company to look at the representation of men and women in every job class. If it isn’t equal, then the next step is to determine why and what can be done to enact change. There is no easy solution – this is a complex subject that encompasses, education, training, hiring practices, government policy and retention issues. It also requires a strong commitment at the executive level to bring about permanent change.

For more insight into the subject, I suggest reading a special report published in 2009 by the Wall Street Journal titled “Unlocking the full potential of women in the U.S. economy.” This article gives good insight into the business case for diversity, what holds women back, and offers a path to change. Another excellent reference is www.catalyst.org. Catalyst is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help create more inclusive, diverse workplaces where any person can thrive. I encourage the leaders of any company lacking a diverse workforce to check out these resources and see how a diverse workforce can benefit their organization.

Donna M. Cortolezzis, P.Eng.
Ph.D. student
Laurentian University

The future of exploration

Eavan Moore’s story “On the Land” in the May issue of CIM Magazine was a well-written, timely reminder that the future is now for aboriginal participation in the mineral industry.

While access to capital for aboriginal communities to participate directly in mine development remains a challenge, participation in early-stage exploration offers more possibilities for a lower cost entry into the business.

Aboriginal Peoples are highly skilled observers of the natural environment, a skill that lends itself to traditional prospecting. Indeed, there are many examples of accomplished aboriginal prospectors but relatively few examples where these prospectors have gone the next step of staking claims and forming a company to attract partners and build a business.

In addition to the many current initiatives in training and skills development to facilitate employment opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples in mining operations, as an industry, we also need to help inspire more entrepreneurial spirit in aboriginal communities so that talented young people appreciate the wealth creation opportunity that prospecting offers.

This is starting to happen in a number of northern communities and in the future, I submit that aboriginal entrepreneurs will be the leaders of the mineral exploration industry in Canada.

Donald S. Bubar
CEO of Avalon Rare Metals

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