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Shining a Light- Jenny Lou Campbell

Jenny Lou_FB_2023.06.29

“First Nations are much more informed now and they have larger voices. Industry is starting to understand what they have to recognize, a lot of these projects aren't going to go on without our consent, we're not going to stand on the sidelines anymore and let that happen. We need to be treated as partners going forward.”


Jenny Lou Campbell has a unique love of the underground and a passion for advocacy. She is a policy analyst for the Anishinabek Nation in their Lands and Resources Department, a role in which she wears many hats, and draws on her vast experience in the mining industry. Jenny has a unique career path and words of wisdom to share as our Women Crush Wednesday for the month of July!


Jenny Lou Campbell comes from a fourth-generation mining family that calls the Sudbury area home. Her feelings toward the mining industry are two sided:


“I recognize the economic and employment opportunities that it can bring to our communities, but am also very, very aware of the risks and the hazards.”


Mining communities, small and tight knit, feel like home to Jenny. She comes from the community of Serpent River, an Anishinabek First Nation in Ontario midway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. In this part of northern Ontario, near Elliott Lake, communities live with the environmental legacy of uranium mining. From the mid-50s to the mid-90s, the area was one of the world’s large producers of uranium. This Uranium extraction polluted the Serpent River, the soil, and eventually Lake Huron.


Jenny decided to pursue studies in the environmental field, with the idea of becoming an advocate for First Nations and their environmental rights. However, when she graduated from school, there weren’t many employment opportunities for her in the environmental field, so she turned to her roots in mining, and discovered that she loved it:


“I always had intentions of going back into the environmental field, but I found that I was really enjoying working in a technical focused role, working with the crews and operations, and getting to go underground. Once I got down there, it really triggered a lot of stuff that I didn't know I found interesting.”


Jenny Lou main photoOver the span of her career, Jenny developed a great love and respect for the underground. When asked what it’s like to be down there, inside the earth, Jenny says, “you get on an elevator and are projected down at 1,000 feet a minute. Once underground, it is absolute darkness. You turn off your headlamp and can’t even see your hand in front of your face!”


She describes hearing the ground creaking and popping, which can be scary but also is a source of information about what is going on with the mine. “I learned to drive standard, underground, on a 15% incline. It was fun, and also terrifying,” Jenny says.


Jenny describes mining as an exciting work environment where she was mentored and pushed to exceed her limits. She loved the challenges, but also was faced with the dual obstacles of working in a male-dominated industry and often being the only First Nations person in a technical role. She says the industry has a long way to go in understanding First Nations people, and also bringing equity and inclusion into their workforce.


“It’s important to advocate for programs & supports focused on First Nations being involved in more than just the traditional labour roles – but also technical or STEM-focused roles as well….so maybe one day First Nations won’t be just “one of” anymore and will fill all variety of roles.”


A few years ago, Jenny made a decision to return to her old intentions of advocating for First Nations and environmental rights. In her current work as a policy analyst with the Anishnabek Nation, she has the opportunity to do just that. The Anishinabek Nation advocates for their 39 member First Nations, work centred around the core of what the Nation protects—the Great Lakes and the surrounding lands.Image_2


In First Nations, everything is about community, and Jenny is enjoying building connections through the current roundtable discussions they are conducting. The focus of their conversations are the federal and provincial mineral strategies, consent and consultation, GIS and values mapping activities, developing tools & resources for technicians, relationship building with government and/or industry, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). These community conversations have reinforced an issue that the Anishinabek Nation has been advocating for a long time- the lack of capacity and resources:


“The future is building relationships with government and creating these agreements so that we can build capacity, not just capacity within administration or lands departments—it's also trying to advocate for agreements that will include infrastructure which will address the lack of broadband or the lack of clean drinking water and schools. All of these things need to be included in the agreements.

They need to be community-based solutions.”


In her current position, Jenny also hopes to help proponents navigate their relations with First Nations to gain a better understanding of Indigenous and/or Anishnabek rights and interests:


“In a nutshell, it's just understanding how connected everything is, how we're connected to the land, the water, the animals. It's understanding that interconnectedness and our connection to the land as Anishinaabe or First Nations. That's my vision, in addition to being self-governing, being self sufficient and making choices, now, that seven generations from now, they're not dealing with the mess that we’re dealing with now. My vision is building up that capacity so that we can ensure that the future is there.”




Anishinabek Lands & Resources Department Mission and Values

The mission of the Lands and Resources Department is to foster a better quality of life by ensuring access to natural resources in support of the following goals, principles, and values of the Anishinabek Nation:


Capacity Building – “By creating opportunities, our communities are empowered to increase the natural, technical, and financial capacity derived and generated from our lands and natural resources.”

Access to Lands and Resources – “Our communities are strengthened by continuous advocacy efforts to increase access to lands and resources.”

Jurisdiction and Treaty Rights – “By building and preserving Anishinabek laws within our territories, communities can continue to assert and exercise jurisdiction, implementing ownership of lands, water, air, and resources.”

Environmental Values – “By respecting Mother Earth we foster change which will sustain our lands and resources, preserving the integrity of the Seventh Generation and our Anishinabe Bimaadziwin.”

Awareness and Communication – “With a continual effort to understand our communities we are committed to facilitate education, sharing current events, and traditional wisdom.”


Like what you're reading? Our WCW campaign is named for the women it features. The women we profile are at the forefront of their fields, all while balancing home life and the challenges of 21st century politics, environment, and reconciliation. And they are – quite frankly – crushing it. See all of our prior #wcw posts here:


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