Taryn Roske, an Indigenous woman in the mining industry, has overcome formidable obstacles to champion a more inclusive and diverse work environment. Through mentoring, advocacy, and community engagement, she is reshaping the industry's landscape for future generations.
Taryn Roske is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and is a JBS operator with Cameco.
Canada’s mining industry has been going through some radical changes over the years to provide a more inclusive and diverse working environment and at a time when the industry is making real strides towards EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), we should still celebrate achievements but acknowledge there is still a lot to be done. As an Indigenous woman in the industry, who has had considerable opportunity, I have still faced challenges as I progressed through my career.
When it comes to making strides towards a more inclusive working environment, organizations like the Canadian Mining Association (CMA) have committed to leading Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) standards through its Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) protocol focused on improving performance in areas of EDI. Mining companies in Canada are taking action toward EDI including my own employer, Cameco. In their 2023 ESG reporting Cameco reported employing 15% women and 51% Indigenous people at their McArthur River and Key Lake operations.
While these improvements should be celebrated it should be noted that there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, while the corporate side may be all in on EDI standards and CMA’s TSM protocol, many of the workers on the ground are still of the traditional mindset and are not entirely sold on the idea. That is why I think it is so important to tell my story, to empower other Indigenous women in the industry and to encourage more women to see themselves in the industry. At such a crucial point when many mining companies in Canada are struggling to find workers, it would help to bridge that gap between corporate EDI objectives and how those objectives are realized on the ground to inspire deeper inclusivity.
As with many Indigenous people, I have equity challenges and my own experience with intergenerational trauma and the effects of residential schools. My family has suffered from addiction, and suicide attempts, and have suffered from trauma. While my experiences aren’t unique to all Indigenous people, I truly believe it is better to tell the real story rather than the ideal story.
I don’t believe that as Indigenous people we should shy away from the hard realities many of us face. Through this adversity and struggle I am very proud of the fact that I am one of the first in my family to break away from addiction and the effects of trauma. Like many I was not perfect, but I learned from others and from my own mistakes.
When I finished high school I, like most at that stage of life, did not know what to do next. Considering I did not come from a very privileged background my options were limited and after some deliberations decided to pursue the geological technician course to pursue a career in the mining industry.
My career path was difficult and involved frank discussions with my employer to express my frustration of not being heard as a woman. Eventually after creating a plan and other conversations, I progressed into the role of a JBS operator full time. Organizational leadership need to listen to their diverse talent and champion the messaging of inclusivity internal to their workforce and how groups like mine (Indigenous women) face equity challenges while pursuing meaningful equality.
To this day I still hear the same sentiment that EDI is just another buzzword or another marketing tactic. To me, EDI is about creating a more inclusive workplace for more Indigenous women (people) to feel more included in the industry. For the young Indigenous person reading this, only you know what you’re capable of. Look up to those who traveled before you and know that these things are possible and that the industry is making real strides in creating those spaces for you to succeed.
Taryn Roske is a JBS operator with Cameco and is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Indigenous Resource Network
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