Previous Winners


Christy Smith

Vice-President Indigenous and Stakeholder Engagement, Falkirk Environmental
Indigenous Trailblazer
Christy is a member of K’ómoks First Nation, living in her traditional territory on Vancouver Island. Christy has authentically navigated both Indigenous and non-indigenous worlds while working in the resource sector for over 25 years. Her work is deeply rooted in reconciliation and decolonizing the approach to ways of doing business. Engaging and building good relationships are at the core of what Christy does as a changemaker, mentor, liaison, project manager, and engagement expert. She has facilitated workshops, presented at national mining conventions, instructed at universities, de-escalated complex situations, mentored Indigenous entrepreneurs, negotiated countless benefits agreements, advocated on the behalf First Nations’ governments and industry proponents, and built capacity within every organization of which she has been a part. Christy has a BA in Native Studies from the University of Alberta and an MBA from the University of Northern British Columbia, and is a wife and mother. Christy currently serves as a Partner and Vice President, Indigenous and Stakeholder Relations with Falkirk Environmental Consultants Ltd. of Vancouver and Vice President, Sustainability with TDG Gold Corp. She is currently serving as Vice Chair for the Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Committee for the Association for Mineral Exploration in BC. She most recently co-authored a book called Weaving Two Worlds: Economic Reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and the Resource Sector.
Christy was nominated by Michael McPhie.


Leona Aglukkaq

Director of TMAC Resources, politician and government administrator
Indigenous Trailblazer
Leona Aglukkaq is a highly-experienced politician and government administrator from the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut. She was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2008 and, in 2009, became the first Inuk in Canadian history to be appointed to Cabinet (as Minister of Health). In addition to her Federal government experience, Ms. Aglukkaq has broad public government exposure, including international diplomatic experience as a Chair of the Arctic Council (2012-2015), a leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Ms. Aglukkaq also has territorial government experience as both an elected official and a public official in the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and in Institutions of Public Government (as defined by the Nunavut Agreement), as a founding member of Nunavut Impact Review Board.


Martha Manuel

Manager, Indigenous Relations, New Gold Inc.
Indigenous Student Trailblazer
Martha is proud to have roots with the Neskonlith Indian Band, which is one of the 17 communities within the Secwepemculecw (Shuswap territory). Her education includes Business Management, Public Administration, Critical Incident Management and is pursuing a Masters degree in Business Administration, Indigenous Business Leadership through Simon Fraser University (SFU). Much of what she’s learned about building effective community-industry relations was taught to her by her late father, Grand Chief George Manuel (founder of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples) and her mentor, the late John Jules of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc. She enjoys spending time on the land and believes that the water and mountains are the best medicine to help guide her work. She brings over 20 years of experience leading Indigenous related programs to new levels of success. Her team effort approach is crucial in developing communication strategies between community and industry. She considers personal development/wellness, education, traditional healing and land stewardship as essential in striving for sustainability with Indigenous communities. She began work as the First Nations Liaison in 2008 and has since transitioned to the Manager of Indigenous Relations. She is a member of the Mining Association of Canada, Aboriginal Affairs Committee (MAC AAC), the Industry Training Authority, Mining Sector Advisory (ITA MSA). And is a Board Member with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). Martha recently received the Michelle Pockey Leadership Award which is named in honor of the memory of a prominent lawyer and community activist, Michelle Pockey, who dedicated herself to making a positive impact with energy, mining, environmental and Indigenous issues, increasing the economic success and impact of women. As she continues her work with communities and New Gold, she continues to strive for the development of strategic initiatives that will create long term benefits for the communities.


Nean Allman

Principal, Allman & Associates Corporate Communications
In 1960 when Norah Jean (“Nean”) Allman applied to study geology in her hometown at the University of Edinburgh, she was warned that as a woman her choice of jobs would be limited. Fifty years later, she could look back with considerable satisfaction on a lifetime of fulfilling employment. Her past experiences include research for the British Antarctic Survey and at the University of Toronto; writing for The Northern Miner newspaper, primarily as Features Editor; working in the corporate public and investor relations fields with Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting, Northgate Exploration and Corona Corporation; establishing her own corporate communications business to help mining companies tell their story; and managing the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremonies and representing the CMHF in the development of the CMHF Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum. A 1969 article written by Nean in the Northern Miner about the few but increasing numbers of female geologists working in Canada’s mining industry would eventually lead to the founding of Women in Mining groups across Canada. She directed a 1976 study of the status of women geoscientists in Canada for the Geological Association of Canada, and served as its first female president in 1981-82. For six years she served on the federal energy, mines and resources minister’s National Industrial Advisory Committee to the Geological Survey of Canada. She continues to follow with great interest the progress of younger generations of women making their way in today’s mining industry.

Mary Caesar

Indigenous Trailblazer
Mary Caesar is a Kaska Dena elder, artist, writer, poet, mother, grandmother, cultural presenter and residential school survivor. Mary is a member of the Liard First Nation in Watson Lake, Yukon. Mary was born in Upper Liard, Yukon, on Oct 4, 1995. Her parents Alfred and Minnie Caesar taught her the traditional teachings and skills of the Kaska Dena. Mary attended Lower Post Residential School in Lower Post, BC, for four years, from 1961 to 1964. Her experience in Lower Post Res. School devastated her life, her family, her community and affected every aspect of her life. After she left Lower Post Residential School, she attended St. Anne's School in Watson Lake, Yukon, then on to Watson Lake Secondary. Mary has two sons, and numerous grandkids. In Sept. 1999, Mary left the north to study Fine Arts at the Malaspina College University, now Vancouver Islan University in Nanaimo, BC on Vancouver Island for 4 years. Mary obtained a 2 yr Fine Arts Diplome from Malaspina University. In Sept. 2005, Mary travelled to Switzerland with 10 other Yukon First Nation's artists to exhibit her art at NONAM Art Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland for a week. In May 2010, Mary travelled to Germany with 3 other artists from the Yukon for a 6-week art project in Germany. Then in March 2014, Mary travelled to Germany for her book launch and book tour with her publisher, for a 3-week book tour. Her book "My Healing Journey" was published by TraumFänger Verlag, a publishing company in Germany. Mary's art and her book have helped her on her healing journey. Although her experience in the residential school was devastating, Mary has learned to survive and thrive. Her upbringing and teachings from her parents and Kaska elders have instilled in her a pride for her Kaska culture and identity. Mary teaches art workshops in the Watson Lake schools, Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon and in the communities of Watson Lake and Ross River, Yukon. She's a cultural presenter and storyteller and shares the stories that her parents have passed on to her and also her stories of being survivor of the residential school system. Mary is currently learning to speak her Kaska language. Mary is involved in the Elders in Residence program with the Golden Predator Mining company in Kaska traditional land. Mary feels that the Kaska elders need to be pro-active in the mining industry and need to speak up for the future and well-being of our Kaska Nation.


Heather Bruce-Veitch

Director Communications & External Relations, Iron Ore Company of Canada
A graduate of Memorial University, Heather began her career with IOC in 1980 as a French language instructor providing training to employees and their families. Following a three-year period, she left the business but returned in 1990 and has held various roles within the company in human resources, communications and public relations. Her vast experience and dedication allow her to maintain lasting relationships with various government and community partners located near IOC’s activities in both Labrador West and Sept. Iles . Heather has a strong set of personal values that align well with IOC’s, particularly with regards to respect, teamwork and integrity, and she is committed to creating an inclusive working environment for those around her. She received the Women in Mining Canada Trailblazer Award in recognition of her efforts to encourage the participation of women in the mining industry, most notably through mentorship. Past President of CIM NL, Heather is currently the Chair of Mining NL. Her greatest achievement has been defining success on her own terms which has resulted in her ability to have a dynamic rewarding career in the mining industry while also enjoying life to the fullest with her husband, her children and granddaughters. A sense of adventure led her down a path of her own but, a path doesn’t become well-worn unless you tend to it, pushing back branches and removing rocks until the ground, once unsteady, beckons others to explore. So, tend it she did.

Patricia 'Patti' Tirschmann

Retired, Former Vice President, Exploration, North American Nickel Inc.
Patti Tirschmann is a specialist in magmatic nickel-copper sulphide deposits with over 29 years of exploration experience. Ms. Tirschmann obtained her BSc Hon and MSC degrees in Geological Sciences from the University of Manitoba. During her career, Patti held the position of Vice President, Exploration for both North American Nickel Inc. and Continental Nickel Limited and of Senior Geologist, International Nickel Sulphide Exploration with Falconbridge Limited/Xstrata plc. She developed, implemented and supervised exploration programs in the major Canadian nickel belts of Sudbury, Thompson and Raglan and has international experience on projects in Tanzania, Norway, Greenland, Alaska, Chile and Australia. In Tanzania, she established and led an exploration team that discovered new nickel sulphide zones and established NI 43-101 compliant mineral resource estimates at the Ntaka Hill Project. Throughout her career, Patti has supported the hiring, training and mentoring of young geologists and geology students and has acted as company liaison for geological research studies. More recently, she has enjoyed mentoring female geology students from the University of Manitoba.

“I firmly believe that key ingredients for a successful career are equal opportunity from employers, mentoring from supervisors and mutual respect of colleagues. With this platform, the individual will take care of the rest.”

Rachel Ambrus

Geotechnical Engineer
Indigenous Student Trailblazer


Susan Craig

Managing Director, Tintina Consultants
Ms. Susan Craig is a professional geoscientist who has over 30 years' experience working on projects from the exploration and development stage, to construction and production, and final mine closure. Ms. Craig's experience includes work with publicly-listed mining companies, Territorial and Federal Governments, First Nations, and industry groups. Susan successfully led the Environmental Assessment process for NovaGold's Galore Creek project in the mid-2000s and played a key role in establishing the landmark Participation Agreement with the Tahltan Nation. During her time with Viceroy Resources, Ms. Craig was part of the team that explored, permitted and developed the Brewery Creek heap leach gold mine near Dawson City, Yukon in the early 1990s. In this role, she collaborated with the First Nation to implement one of the first Socio-economic Accords in all of Canada. While President/CEO and Director of Northern Freegold (from 2006-2011), 52% of the highly skilled/field positions were filled by females (who took home 59% of the pay). Susan was the first female Chair of the AME Roundup Conference, as well as first female Chair of the Yukon Mineral Advisory Board and first female President of the Yukon Chamber of Mines (all volunteer). She has also served as a Director of Yukon Energy Corporation, the Mining Association of BC and Yukon Imagination Library. Susan has received a number of awards recognizing her contributions toward environmental stewardship and sustainable development and is a Yukon Women in Mining Champion.


Betty-Ann Heggie

Betty-Ann Heggie, a widely recognized thought leader in gender dynamics is published in Harvard Business review, Inc. Magazine, Apple News, Huffington Post and The Good Men Project . An award-winning speaker, author and mentor, she is also a corporate director, philanthropist and a former Senior Vice-President with PotashCorp (now Nutrien), the world’s largest fertilizer supplier. The author of “Gender Physics, Unlock the Energy You Never Knew You Had to Get the Results You Want”, she speaks regularly on how men and women can make progress together in the modern workplace. During her corporate career she was twice named the top investor relations person in Canada, once by her clients and once by her peers and was subsequently inducted into Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame. In 2019 Betty-Ann was named a Distinguished Speaker by the Canadian Institute of Mining after being given the Trailblazer Award from Women in Mining Canada and recognized as one of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining. She was also inducted into the Saskatchewan Business Hall of Fame, given the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the YWCA Lifetime Achievement Award, the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Mentorship Award and the Stevie Award for “Women Helping Women”. Betty-Ann currently serves as a director for TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) and has also been on the boards of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority, the Canadian Wheat Board, Allana Potash and MITACS.


Maureen Jensen

Past Chair, Ontario Securities Commission
Maureen Jensen has been a leader in the investment industry and securities regulation for more than 20 years. She is the Past Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). As the first woman to lead the OSC, Maureen was a fierce advocate for investor protection and a champion for reducing the regulatory burden on businesses. Maureen served as the Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer of the OSC from 2011 – 2016, prior to her appointment as its Chair and CEO serving from 2016-2020. Before joining the OSC, Maureen was SVP, Surveillance and Compliance at IIROC from 2008-2011. Prior to the formation of IIROC in 2008, Maureen was President and CEO of Market Regulation Services Inc., the independent national market regulation services provider for Canadian equity markets. Maureen has also held senior regulatory and business positions at the Toronto Stock Exchange, and prior to that had a 20 year career in the mining industry, holding both executive and technical management positions with several resource companies. Maureen is a Registered Professional Geoscientist (P. Geo), holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and has a Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa). She is currently a Director of Franco-Nevada Corporation, a public governor of FINRA in the US, and Vice Chair, Board of Directors at the Toronto Centre for Global Leadership in Financial Supervision and is Chair of The Prosperity Project. She also sits on the Windsor business school Deans advisory committee and the Capital Markets Institute Advisory Committee at the Rotman School of business.


Samantha Espley

Vice-President, BESTECH
Samantha is a visionary business executive and is passionate about safety & health, diversity & inclusion, and sustainability in the mining industry. As VP at BESTECH, she created The Whole Mine™ approach as a core platform to guide safe, sustainable practices across the mining eco-system and involving all stakeholders. She leads mining transformation within the INOVINTA Group of Companies: BESTECH, SHYFT, FORTAI, and FROSKR. She brings extensive industry experience with Vale, Inco, Falconbridge, Dome, Denison-Potacan, and Noranda. She managed operations, engineering, large capital projects, and led Technology & Innovation for global operations with strategic technical direction, governance, and technical assurance. Samantha provides leadership at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum (CIM) and was the 2020-21 President. She is a board member of the Bharti School of Engineering at Laurentian University, a committee member of Canadian Academy of Engineering, Science North's "Go Deeper" project, CIM's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory society, Women in Mining, Women in Science and Engineering, and a community leader and humanitarian supporting North-Eastern Ontario Kids Foundation and Zawadi La Tumaini orphanage in Africa. Samantha is an Ontario Professional Engineer with degrees from the University of Toronto and Laurentian University. Samantha is proud to receive recognition: Governor General's Gold Medal, Mining Trailblazer Award, Top 100 Global Women in Mining, University of Toronto Mid-Career Award, CIM Distinguished Service Medal, Outstanding Service Medal, Community Achievement Award, PEO Engineering Management Award, CIM President Certificate, and Engineers Canada Award.