By Laura Stricker On Behalf of www.samssa.ca
Special Series Part 2 For many in Sudbury, mining is something of a family affair.
The Labine and Espley/Boudreau families are no exception. With a son and a daughter, respectively, who recently graduated from Laurentian University’s mechanical engineering and mining engineering programs, that legacy continues to grow.
Mechanical engineering graduate Stephane Labine’s father is Guy Labine, the CEO of Science North. Mining engineering graduate Amy Boudreau’s mom is Samantha Espley, Vale’s director of technical excellence in mining and milling for the base metals operations. Her dad, Marc Boudreau, is the CEO of Bestech.
“Ever since I was young I have always been interested in problem solving. Breaking things and putting them back together to see how they work always fascinated me,” explains Stephane.
“As I grew older and advanced in my schooling, I realized that I really enjoyed and was intrigued by my math and science classes. Best of all, I was excelling in them. When it came time to deciding which branch of education I wanted to pursue, mechanical engineering almost seemed like a no brainer.”
Stephane now works as a project manager at Lopes Ltd. in Coniston. He credits his parents for helping him get to where he is today. “My family has always been very supportive in my schooling and my goals. They always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. When it came time to decide what education path to pursue, they helped me narrow down the options by discussing the pros and cons of studying a profession. They have given me my best foot forward in life to achieve everything I can accomplish. I owe both of my parents a big thank you for raising me the way they did.”
Guy, his father, was proud to see him cross the stage at graduation.
“(Graduating) sort of represents a successful transition in life, from high school to postsecondary education and now – as I joke with him – you’re now in the real world. It was nice as well for (Stephane) to receive the recognition. He worked very hard in the four years he was there … and the results were pretty spectacular. He won the Canadian (Society for Mechanical) Engineering Gold Medal and had the highest mark in mechanical engineering in his class.”
Not only did Samantha Espley get to see her daughter, Amy, cross the stage – she was actually on the stage when it happened.
“I am the chair of the Bharti School of Engineering, so was privileged to be on stage with Amy when she got her degree.”
Samantha and husband Marc Boudreau are wardens for the Iron Ring ceremony, and were able to “ring” Amy.
It was a very special occasion,” Samantha says.
Amy is the family’s newest graduate, but she isn’t the only child in the family working in the mining industry. Their son, Eric, was in the Heavy Duty Equipment Technology program at Cambrian College and now apprentices at Copper Cliff North Mine.
Their daughter Kate graduates from Laurentian’s mining engineering program next year. Their other daughter, Miranda, just finished her first year at Laurentian and plans to stay in Northern Ontario and work in the medical field.
Amy has a job lined up at Agnico-Eagle’s Laronde Mine, located in northwestern Quebec’s Abitibi region.
Seeing her graduate – and get her second degree – was exciting for mom Samantha.
“It was a really proud moment,” says Samantha. “I‘m proud of her. She went back for mining engineering – she graduated (first in) environmental sciences. Amy has always been very interested in saving the environment. She’s very good at solving problems, too.
“What a great mix, environmental and mining. I was thrilled for her – to have been able to do the two careers, it’s a lot of dedication, a lot of time in school. She’s a real asset to our family, but also the industry. She’s going to be a star, I think, in her career.”
When Samantha began working in mining, there were even fewer women in the field than there are today.
“When I graduated I … expected that I would find there were other women in the organizations, and there really weren’t – not a lot. I would say the early 1990s was a bit of a turning point, when I realized there were other women in the mining industry, just not in the mines,” says the co-founder of WISE Sudbury (Women in Science and Engineering).
“It was really hard to get in, because you had to be able to pass a physical assessment. You had to be able to lift 120 pounds repeatedly and put it at shoulder height. It was very difficult for women to pass that test, unless you’d been doing bench pressing and weight lifting.”
As WISE Sudbury co-founder, Samantha does outreach in schools, teaching both male and female students about science, engineering and mining. Often she’d bring her kids with to these sessions. The mining talk continued at home, too.
“Mark and I talk about mining all the time, so they hear about nothing else but mining. Mining and horses,” she laughs.