Barbara Caelles to be honoured at Minerva Foundation’s Women in Natural Resources Awards

Published: 12/12/2013

Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun, 12 November 2010

Barbara Caelles, a pioneer in B.C.’s mining industry, has always loved the idea of giving back.

On Dec. 1, the professional geoscientist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry will be thanked at a special luncheon, not only for her years of service in mining, but especially for her longtime practice of helping young people enter the field.

“Barbara developed a very successful career in the mining industry,” Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell, executive director of the Minerva Foundation for B.C. Women, said in an interview about the decision to honour Caelles with the award for philanthropy or volunteerism at the foundation’s Women in Natural Resources Awards. “But she was also engaging women in the mining industry.

“She established, for example, the Women in Mining [Vancouver chapter] group,” Guerrero-Campbell said of Caelles, who graduated from the University of B.C. with a B. Sc. in geology and is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC and the Association of Records Managers and Archivists.

“That’s where women can network, help each other and share stories.

“Beyond mining, she also did advocacy in terms of education for women and young people who might be budding geoscientists. She has been giving back, and she really embodies what we’re trying to honour here in philanthropy and volunteerism.”

Caelles, whose experience in the mining industry includes 20 years specializing in records management, spent the first 11 years of her career as an exploration field geologist in Canada and the U.S. before turning to consulting to balance her profession with being a mother of two boys. But throughout her career, she also supported the career-prep program for high school students, finding work placements for budding geoscientists.

A founding member of the Vancouver Women in Mining Networking Group, Caelles serves on the executive of the Greater Vancouver Mining Women’s Association and is a member of the Mining Association of BC. She has been employed by and consulted for Cominco, Teck, Eldorado, and junior exploration companies.

She also served as treasurer of the Mineral Exploration Group — Vancouver. In an interview, Caelles recalled that one of the main reasons she got involved in helping others was payback.

“I got involved [in volunteerism] for a number of reasons, [but] the primary reason I started working with students was because I was interested in geology,” she said. “I thought it was the most interesting field, but no one [in high school] really taught me how to do it. So I started going to school to talk with kids about geology as soon as I graduated from university.”

Caelles said several people mentored her in mining through her university years. “That really helped me. But I had no way to repay them. So I started mentoring high school kids as a way to do it.”

Caelles said that in the 1970s, there were few women in the mining industry, so she set about to change that, in part by setting up the Women in Mining group. “It’s a very exciting profession for anyone to be in. The modern world wouldn’t exist without mining. And women find it much easier now. There’s a lot of women working in the field.”

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