Local women thriving in non-traditional roles

Trappers, golf pros, and tire and automotive repair

By Denise Waldron

Golf pro Shana Kelly. Photo: Sienna Frost.

In the 2016 Census, male-dominated occupations in Ontario had less than a 5 per cent share from females. The good news is women are entering trades where they have been historically underrepresented, according to Statistics Canada.

While Stats Canada does not have a breakdown for local women in non-traditional trades in Kawartha Lakes, it is easy to find women not only involved, but thriving and owning their own businesses, including Sienna Frost. You would be forgiven if you met her and assumed she was an Instagram influencer in the beauty or fashion realm. She is tall, stylish and sports long, swishy blonde hair and on-point painted nails with intricate art. When this mom of four heads to work most days, she has a rifle and a hefty trappers kit to haul sometimes kilometres into the bush.

Frost lives on about 40 hectares (100 acres) in the Cameron area with her partner and children, along with chickens and cows. When she trained to be a trapper four years ago, she was the only female both in her class and to write her license after taking the Fur Harvest, Fur Management and Conservation course.

She and her partner soon secured a contract with Canadian Pacific Rail to remove  beavers and their dams across Ontario. Dam building can cause track flooding, which leads to soil erosion and collapsed embankments that can drive train derailments.

Sienna Frost checks on a trap.

While beaver pelts are no longer in demand, Frost utilises all parts of the animal. The castor sacs, which are in the anal area of the animal, are used to produce high-end perfume. She sells the meat to raw dog food manufacturers, and fashions the pelts and skins into mittens, hats and accessories. “We are all about using everything we can.”

Frost says not all trapping involves killing animals. “We work with local Kawartha resorts to remove dams and relocate the beavers.”

She also live-trapped and relocated a pair of foxes who decided her chicken coop was an all-you-can-eat buffet. Soon after, she discovered their kits. She kept them wild, bottle fed them and moved them onto a diet of beaver meat before being relocated near their parents.

They used humane traps when killing is necessary. Older style traps are outlawed. “Years ago, offset traps would not instantly kill an animal. Now, it’s instant, with no pain or suffering.”

When she is not trapping and hunting animals, Frost shoots people — with a camera — as a professional photographer. She is The Lindsay Advocate’s main photographer, and her talents are in demand for portraits and weddings as well.

Frost says that hunters and trappers are often animal lovers and contribute to conservation efforts through hunting and trapping tags and licenses. She would love to mentor women in hunting and trapping, as it is a viable job for those who are physically active and love the outdoors.

Like Frost, Golf pro Shana Kelly was the only female enrolled in the Business Administration – Professional Golf Management in 1998 at Georgian College. For the Lindsay mom of two, it was an inclusive program and her teachers thought it was “awesome” to have a woman enrolled. It was a positive experience, earning her the Peer Recognition Award.

Kelly was introduced to golf at 8-years-old, later worked in her parent’s golf store in Bobcaygeon and seriously considered a golf career at 18.

After graduation, the new pro found it more challenging in the male-dominated field than in school. “There was a physical toll I did not expect,” Kelly says. She would lose her voice trying to be heard out on the course and as she got older, “it can be hot outside in the sun.”

Kelly is a member of the PGA of Canada and the Coaching Association of Canada, has been a coach and teacher at several clubs in the Kawarthas and in 2008 she opened Kelly’s Glen Golf Learning Centre in her backyard in Bobcaygeon. In 2019, her family moved to Lindsay, and she opened an indoor studio.

The business owner is also a PGA evaluator. She gets to evaluate new golf professionals and help ensure they are prepared to teach golf lessons as part of their overall portfolio, towards receiving their Class A certification with the association.

The pro said she became the instructor she wished she’d had. “Male teachers may give the ingredients, but some women need the whole recipe to play,” also noting, that sometimes women say they are more comfortable with a female instructor.

Kelly has a waiting list for new clients. She teaches children and adults and says she loves working with people and helping them to better enjoy their time on the golf course.”

Canadian pro champion, Brooke Henderson has whetted the appetite for women to take up the sport. But right now, there are only 222 women out of 3,500 members in the PGA  — which is just over 6 per cent, according to Kelly. “When you compare it to the number of women playing the game of golf, we need to get that percentage up so it’s a better representation of the overall numbers.”

Nicole Persaud, owner of Nix Tire and Auto Repair.

In business, women try to break through the glass ceiling. In golf, they sometimes refer it to it as the grass ceiling, with female pros sometimes being mistaken for golfer’s wives or the beer cart operator. Kelly says women need to be entrepreneurs to “break through to the top.”

Nicole Persaud did just that. She landed in Lindsay at 18 and never left, after attending Fleming College for Materials Management and Distribution. She spent 20 years working for a local tire business before starting her own tire and automotive repair shop six years ago.

Persaud started Nix Tire and Auto Repair in Lindsay with the goal of proving to herself that she could succeed, regardless of gender.

The same holds true with her advice for people deciding on a career path, saying it does not matter if you are male or female — you need to follow your dream. “If you have the knowledge, you can either learn or build on your learning capabilities.”

She knew tires when she started her business but knew nothing about the automotive side of things saying she was not a mechanic. “But the more you are around it, the more you learn,” noting you may not have the proper lingo but you can explain things the way people understand it.

She has a good working relationship with her all-male crew. “It’s fantastic, and I don’t see myself as their boss. We work together as a team.” However, she sometimes encounters challenges with customers who are more used to seeing women in different roles. “Customers often want to speak with a man, as they are more accustomed to seeing a woman behind a desk rather than in control of the place,” she said.

Women like Frost, Kelly and Persaud prove there are opportunities for women in Kawartha Lakes to thrive and succeed in male-dominated businesses.

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