“It's down to hard work and determination”: this Squamish woman runs an excavator as well as any man

Amy Fenton didn't think she would wind up in construction. In fact, she went to school at Langara College in Vancouver to become a professional photographer. But six years after graduation, she was still working in a dark room – and missed the world outside her lab.

“My job was to do custom black and white prints... I was in the dark room all day,” she reflects, laughing. “I was done being in the dark all day. I wanted to be outside; I have always loved nature.”

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So when she decided to move back to her hometown of Squamish, she made a conscious decision to pursue construction work. Her career path eventually took her to Coast Aggregates, where she was given an opportunity to run a rock truck. That worked out so well that she was given a promotion to excavator operator.

There's more to the job than one might initially assume, says Fenton. In the quarry, materials are harvested and washed or crushed to turn into concrete or construction material. Fenton is excited to learn as much as she can about her job, saying, “The part of this job that excites me as there is so much to learn about aggregates and concrete. Our products are tested frequently. But it's good to know from a quarry perspective, what does clay do to concrete? I want to know how to process our aggregates so that I know what different companies in our communities need for a successful project.”

For the first three years, Fenton was back in Squamish, she was a single mother, and she credits this with motivating her to work as hard as possible and earn the respect of her colleagues: “In a typically male industry, it's satisfying to know I can do the same work that they can. Obviously, size and strength are a difference, but I think women bring more drive and determination to the table. I hope to teach and show my daughter that there is no limit to what she can do. It's down to hard work and determination, and when you earn people's respect, the options are unlimited for women. I hope I can show her that, through my job and my choices, that opportunities are endless as long as you're willing to learn.”

If you'd like to find out more about the work Amy Fenton and the Coast Aggregates team are doing, head to their website.

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