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In Their Words: Women of Domtar, Then and Now

Categories: Our Company
During Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate the many women of Domtar who have helped make our company successful. Confetti background with photos of Domtar women featured in the article. Newsroom[dot]Domtar[dot]com

Over the course of our long history, the women of Domtar have made important contributions to our success.

Whether finishing grocery bags at the Dryden Paper Company Bag Factory during World War II, wrapping toilet paper rolls in the late 1940s or leading a manufacturing crew today, women of Domtar have enabled the company’s success for decades.

As we recognize Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in our 175th year, we’ve asked several women of Domtar with long careers how the work environment and attitudes toward women have changed. Here’s what they shared about their careers and what excites them about Domtar’s future.

Brenda Sloan, Domtar’s longest-serving female employee

Brenda Sloan, a fiber supply and market representative, joined the Plymouth Mill in 1971 when it was owned by Weyerhaeuser.

“When you have worked for the company for 50-plus years, you see a lot of changes over time,” she says. “You must be able to adapt to the different challenges that come. My manager and coworkers made it easy for me to move forward in those times.

“The Plymouth Mill has been a great place. I’m grateful for the people I have worked with and the company I work for. Even with my retirement approaching, I want to see the company continue to grow and prosper for future generations.”

Annick Péloquin, from sheeter lines to logistics coordinator at the Windsor Mill

Annick Péloquin joined the Windsor Mill in 2001 and spent her first 10 years working on sheeter lines in the converting department. She has been the mill’s logistics and transportation coordinator since 2017.

“At Domtar, I’ve always felt the support I needed to achieve my goals,” she says. “My colleagues and managers have been there to support me through my challenges and my career.

“We now see more women in management positions in the industry. In my area, there are more women actively involved in the transportation business, and this has changed the dynamic.”

Sherry Phillips, the first woman at the Ashdown Mill to be qualified in the top operator position for #2 Fiberline

“Women are much more accepted in the workplace today than when I was hired in 1991,” Phillips says. “There have been many changes to the Ashdown Mill over my tenure. I’m excited about the mill’s potential and the jobs it will bring to my community for many years to come.”

Isabelle Laroche, contributing to process and environmental practice changes at the Windsor Mill

Isabelle Laroche, now assistant superintendent for fiber and energy at the Windsor Mill, began her Domtar career in 1995 as a junior environmental engineer. During her time with the company, she has contributed to the implementation of environmental certifications that have modernized process and environmental practices at the site.

“Domtar has evolved into accepting other types of management styles,” Laroche says. “Women often have a more empathetic management style, which does not prevent us from achieving results. I have always been well-received and supported through my career.”

Wendy Lees, from a summer job to Senior Manager, ERP Projects

Lees has worked for Domtar since she landed a summer position as backup tape librarian at the Corporate Data Center in Montreal in 1974.

“Back then there was not the massive amounts of disk storage we have today and all data was stored on magnetic tape reels that we managed,” she explains. At summer’s end, she was offered a full-time position, and she has worked in Information Technology since then.

Lees is now Senior Manager, ERP Projects. “Domtar gave me many opportunities to grow on the job, and over my career, I have had the opportunity to work on many firsts, such as the implementation of the first Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC computer servers in Canada when maybe 8–10 percent of system administrators in the field were women,” she says. “I’ve never regretted the decision my 18-year-old self took to work at Domtar.”

Priscilla Johnson, the first permanent female crane operator at the Ashdown Mill

Johnson was 24 years old when she was hired in March 1997. In 2013, she became the mill’s first permanent female crane operator.

“The jobs and possibilities for women in this industry are endless,” says Johnson. “Women are working in the industry now not just as clerical employees but as management, engineers, pulp mill operators and in other roles.”

She adds, “Domtar has evolved by creating a workplace where all employees feel valued. We are coworkers that utilize our individual strengths to get the job done.”