In 2012, Women in Mining and Women in Nuclear Saskatchewan (WIM/WiN-SK) was born from a memorandum of cooperation between two national organizations: Women in Mining Canada and Women in Nuclear Canada. However, one year prior is when our three founders, Tabetha Stirrett, Kathryn Black, and Véronique Loewen, really began our story. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we reflect back on our organization’s history and how we came to be the WIM/WiN-SK we see today.
Ten years ago, three influential women in the Saskatchewan mining and nuclear industries, Stirrett, Black, and Loewen began crossing paths at conference after conference. They shared a feeling of under-representation and a need to address the why. Organizations like the Mining Association of Canada, Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), and Saskatchewan Mining Association were active players at the time; however, their focus centered around advocating for the industries and western representation remained limited at the national level. More and more organizations that focused on advocating for women within these industries were popping up in other jurisdictions like Ontario, but nothing had sparked in Saskatchewan — a significant portion of the population was still being ignored.
“Everything that happened in society [at the time], like protecting the rights of women, and gender diversity, equity, and inclusion kept really justifying the need for our existence, and proving that what we thought years prior was still very much relevant and people were actually catching up to these ideas,” says Loewen.
Recognizing the close link between mining and nuclear in Saskatchewan, it was clear the industries needed to be allies to form a strong foundation for an organization to grow. Stirett, Black, and Loewen took action and WIM/WiN-SK was born. Their objectives were two-fold: advocate and engage women (educational) and entice women to enter and stay in the industries (recruitment and retention).
A turning point for the growth of the organization was the development of the Mine Your Potential (MYP) Conference. It provided sponsorship opportunities, formalized a new Saskatchewan network that was able to showcase success stories, as well as provided women with the tools to be confident, learn from one another, and have the proper language to advocate and engage. The first year, efforts were women-centric, but it soon became clear that, to have the much needed diversity and inclusion conversation, male allies and champions were needed. This pushed the organization to evolve MYP by adding more technical value and pieces that speak to everyone.
With our growth over the last 10 years, WIM/WiN-SK has matured, incorporated into a non-profit entity, and updated its organizational structure. We are now made up of a board of directors who are responsible for setting the strategic plan, multiple committees who are responsible for planning and executing the strategic plan set by the board of directors, a part-time executive director who supports the organization, an expansive membership who participates in the various networking events, and dedicated sponsors who support our initiatives.
Through our strategic plan, we continue to support the goals of our parent organizations (Women in Mining Canada and Women in Nuclear Canada) and we are very proud to share our journey on the path to driving growth through parity by connecting and inspiring a diverse workforce within the mining and nuclear industries in our province.