Tara Keshane’s journey into potash mining

Aug 21, 2023 | potash news

Drive. Passion. Perseverance all words that describe Tara Keshane.

As a member of the Keeseekoose First Nation, Keshane decided she wanted to join the potash mining industry and develop a meaningful high-potential career. She elected to apply and join the Digital Transformation in Potash Mining (DTiPM) program and took a leap of faith during the program’s pilot delivery on Cowessess First Nation. Keshane had taken a similar program in the past but was devastated to learn an error was made on her transcripts, forcing her to leave halfway through. She did not let that bring her down. Instead, she pursued building her skillset in heavy equipment operation to increase her chances of employment in the mining sector.

When Keshane was made aware of the DTiPM program, she accepted the opportunity and navigated barriers – travelling one hour and 45 minutes to and from the classroom every day – despite the harsh winter we experienced in 2021. She worked after hours to clean the classroom and gain extra money to cover her costs during the program, amongst other challenges we all face. Keshane excelled in the classroom and took the program very seriously.

Following eight weeks of commuting, holding an after-class job, and navigating all challenges, Keshane graduated but was unable to attend the ceremony as she had contracted COVID-19.  She watched her classmates, their families, and the community supporters celebrate their accomplishments online from her home. In her typical fashion, she used this time to seek another opportunity; this time it was employment with HCC, a mining contractor. She accepted a job with HCC and began working underground – where she validated her love for mining.

Keshane’s dedication was quickly recognized by Mosaic and was hired soon after at their Esterhazy operations. Since then, she has remained involved with the program and emceed the opening ceremonies for the first iteration in Saskatoon. Following the ceremonies, she took it upon herself to speak to representatives from Mosaic’s Colonsay mine as she and her daughter wanted to move to Saskatoon. They went for lunch and, not long after, Keshane was a team member at Mosaic’s Colonsay mine site. During the third iteration of the program in March 2023, Keshane was a guide for the newest students for the underground tour, continuing to demonstrate her leadership skills. Her story showcases how dedication and determination contributed to her dreams coming true.

The program

In 2021, Saskatoon-based company, Morris Interactive, launched their first iteration of Digital Transformation in Potash Mining (DTiPM), an Indigenous pre-employment program specific to potash mining. The program is targeted towards First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals who are interested in the lucrative careers mining provides. The 10-week program combines an eight-week in-class learning portion with a two-week practicum at Mosaic’s potash mine site. The program is a collaborative partnership between a significant number of First Nation communities and organizations, mining supply chain companies, Mosaic, Conexus Credit Union, IMII, and Morris Interactive. The innovative approach to the program and sponsorship model allows students to connect with mining employers during the program, network and align passions, and increase career opportunities in the making.

Program history

The pilot-program was done in partnership with Cowessess First Nation, delivered on the nation, and funded by International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII). Following the pilot, the Gabriel Dumont Institute provided funding to run the program in Saskatoon, geared towards those living in or near Saskatoon. Lastly, another program was run in Saskatoon, funded by Mosaic and the industry sponsors.

Partners include Mosaic, Conexus Credit Union, Cowessess First Nation, the Gabriel Dumont Institute, and the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

Sponsors: Fitness 2J2, Saskarc Inc., Mine Supply Company of Saskatchewan, Noble Construction Corp., Hatch, Westburne, Supreme Steel, SREDA, Peter Lucas Project Management, and Bit Service Company Ltd.

Foundational Sponsor: International Mineral Innovation Institute.