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Wisdom: Protecting the environment (3 photos)

In a sector dominated by men, Larissa Mikkelsen is moving mountains for Indigenous women to follow their dreams in the geology and mining industry.

By building relationships with First Nation Communities needed for exploration and infrastructure development and success, Larissa Mikkelsen is striving to make sure the environment is protected.

Growing up in Northern Ontario, she was always fascinated with the environment and water systems and while attending the Water Resource Science program at Lakehead University, Mikkelsen was exposed to geology.

“I’ve always had that interest in the environment and water systems, and it was always an interest of mine to make sure the environment is protected while we develop our resources,” she says about continuing her education in the geological field.

Moving mountains

While Creator and land are an essential part of Indigenous culture and life, Mikkelsen made this her life’s work.

After finishing her master’s degree in Geology, Mikkelsen began consulting on environmental and hydrogeological management for clients in Ontario and is now the president of LBS Environmental Consulting Inc., a consulting firm that provides support and encouragement for Indigenous Communities through infrastructure development and environmental engagement.

Mikkelsen brings a politically neutral perspective to a role traditionally performed by Tribal Councils to protect the land, air and water during infrastructure development and implementation.

Mikkelsen presented a workshop this past spring to the Mooka'am Kwe: She Rises BIZCamp discussing her experience as a woman in a male-dominated industry and she couldn’t be more excited about the movement and possibilities for women, especially Indigenous women, in this industry.

Women move through this industry in an unconventional way, she says.

“[PARO] asked me to talk about my journey in a male-dominated field because there are a lot more women in [this industry] … I talked about my career path and keeping the goal in mind and working towards it slowly to where I am now.”

Climbing to the top

Indigenous women are leading the way in industries once untouched by women and are changing the face of what it means to work and lead. Mikkelsen has immersed herself in the protection of the environment and has watched it change throughout the years.

“There are a lot more women going into the sciences and university programs, and I’ve noticed there’s even more working on the planning and consultation side. There is a lot of room for it and I love seeing more women get into the leadership roles.”

Currently, Mikkelsen and LBS Environmental Consulting Inc. is assisting Marten Falls First Nation on their Community Access Road Environmental Assessment Project and she hopes to continue assisting more Indigenous communities with environmentally sound development projects.