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Tod Hanson: a passion or nor then Ontario.

Tori Hanson refers to herself as a Northern transplant, but that hasn't prevented her from being one of the region's biggest champions. As director of trades and technology at Northern College's Porcupine campus in Timmins, Hanson said her love affair with the North began when she was hired by the college to teach part-time.

"During that time period, I taught a lot of programs for a variety of people so I began to fall in love with the college system as well," she said. "I realized what a phenomenon community colleges are and how they are educating everyone who does everything. Walk into a hospital and of every 10 staff people, seven of them are college graduates and walk into a mine, seven out of 10 are college graduates."

Through the college system, and her progression to administration positions, she began to realize how she felt about her students and the community and started to become involved in other areas.

She co-chaired a school parent group which built a new playground and she felt a sense of accomplishment in realizing that people can effect that kind of change.

"I didn't get involved because I should but because there was a need," Hanson said.

Her contact, through the college system, with laid-off workers from the resource industries, instilled a sense of indignation over their predicament. "How come Northern Ontario suffered for this? Hanson said. "It happened with the ebbs and flows of the resource industries and I wondered why We weren't more diversified. All these questions were being asked by thoughtful people and there were strategic plans and focus groups happening simultaneously and that lead me to become involved."


She also took some courses on community economic and social development to better understand how she could help the community.

"I became moreinvolved, such as with the community futures board, and I co-chaired the Timmins networking group. I did those kinds of, things which brought me into contact with others working for the betterment of the community and the North. I was really impressed with the people I was working with," Hanson said.

She realized that Northerners are the most proficient people she has ever encountered.

"We have to do more with less. We have to take programs, services and policies that are geared for a whole other world, like the GTA, and make them fit for our needs up here in the North. Northerners are incredibly resourceful and I come from someplace else and have lived in a few other places so I feel I can say that," Hanson said.

She spent six years on the Timmins Chamber of Commerce board where she chaired committees such as workforce development and tourism but she was eager to co-chair the Timmins Regional Economic Outlook (TREO) conference held every two years.

"More than anything I wanted to cochair the conference because I believed that sharing information on what is going on in our economic environment and having the public become more aware is very critical," Hanson said.

She got her chance one year and the focus was on climate change and energy costs and the conference speakers, who represented the large industries in the North, brought their issues forward.

"The TREO conference and the chamber help bring issues into the light and that is good for our area and all Northerners," she said.

When she finished her tenure on the board, she was approached by people asking whether she would consider putting her name forward for FedNor's advisory board or the board of directors for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC). She applied to NOHFC and was accepted and is currently serving a second term.

"Each of the five cities in the North have their own issues and there is some competition," Hanson said. "But the truth of the matter is that taking a broader regional view is probably more likely to effect more positive change that is good for everybody and your community"

Her role on the board is one she enjoys since it helps to provide support to both public and private organizations that are developing the economy, increasing productivity and creating jobs.

"The North really is special and many work on its behalf," Hanson said. "I am not a politician and not up in front but I just want to keep working on the North to the best of my ability. My passion for the North is sincere and I hope it has helped."
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Title Annotation:5 NORTHERN LEADERS
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jun 1, 2012
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