Cathy Quane might have had the most symbolic duty on the last day of operations for the old Skeena Cellulose pulp mill.
As the mill closed its doors for the last time more than a decade ago, Cathy turned out the lights just days after earning a job upgrade.
“I think I had the shortest[-lived] promotion in history. I was told I’d be the purchasing manager and on that Friday, [that was it]”, she said last week, recalling her enterprising start in the purchasing field at a job she was only planning to work over one summer.
“I was going to be a nurse and I got a summer job at the pulp mill before I went to school and I stayed there for a long time until it closed,” said Cathy, outlining a career at the mill for 25-plus years.
After a stint working with Northern Health in the speech and language program, an important position both in the job itself and critical in allowing her to stay in Prince Rupert, Cathy found herself back in the field of purchasing – this time with Ridley Terminals.
“I’m quite happy,” she said.
“I’m just finishing my purchasing diploma in August and I like it. As my husband [jokes], ‘You get to spend other people’s money and leave mine alone’.”
Born and raised in Rupert, Cathy comes from a relatively recent generational west coast family as her parents, who met in the Second World War, came to the coast after a brief stay on the other side of the country.
“He was a medic and she was a nurse’s aide and they got married,” she explained.
“They immigrated to Nova Scotia, but the nearest neighbour was 20 miles away and my mom comes from Ireland so all her neighbours were much like [Rupert] – really close together. My mom was having a hard time and my uncle said ‘Come out to Prince Rupert’. So they took the train and they’ve been here ever since,” she said, adding she’s got two brothers who reside in town and another in Fort Nelson.
As Cathy explains her involvement with both Prince Rupert Minor Hockey (PRMHA) and the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, it quickly becomes clear just how much Cathy values time.
Like any person knowing someone affected by cancer, and having lost a friend to the disease as recently as a few weeks ago, she knows that while we may not all have the tremendous funds to boost scientists’ research on our own, time is the great equalizer – both in volunteering for Relay for Life and in minor hockey.
“I don’t have millions of dollars to donate to research of course, though I need to check my [lottery] ticket tonight – that may change, but money’s great. Money’s awesome, but time is great too. So if you’ve got an hour or two, just give back to the community … If everybody donated two hours, can you imagine the things that could get done?” she said.
Cathy knows all about giving her time for a greater cause. This year alone, she’s the PRMHA’s sponsorship coordinator, picture coordinator and bantam rep manager. While she does have her youngest child still enrolled in hockey, her oldest has since stopped playing and Cathy’s contributions to the organization have far eclipsed the typical parent-volunteer.
“I just want the kids to have a good time and play hockey and they can’t do that unless they’ve got a manager and coaches and a safety person. [I try] to be a team mom and do whatever they need me to do … My objective is for my kids to be able to learn a team sport and to be able to skate and swim and play soccer. Those are group activities,” she said.
Cathy hands out the year-end minor hockey awards and it’s one of the highlights of the year for her as sponsorship lead. House league and rep are fun, but it’s the levels even below those that make the awards ceremony such a joy.
“[The best part] is always the little kids in Initiation A and B. They’re so excited to receive their medals … We always have enough that all the kids in A and B get one,” Cathy said.
“Their balance is good and sometimes they have little meltdowns on the ice, but a couple sessions and they’re back up … That’s what we do, we want to develop all the kids so everybody can have a good time,” she explained, adding that families who may not be able to afford the gear can still talk to treasurer Christine Storey through PRMHA.com about acquiring donated equipment from the start of the year hockey swap and Prince Rupert Recreation’s Everybody Gets to Play program.
And with Relay for Life, an initiative Cathy helped spearhead a few years ago, the Rupertite is extremely proud of the totals and figures that Prince Rupert’s committee has been able to drum up for the past decade, even if she’s taken a backseat within the past couple events.
“I’ve been involved with Relay as a coordinator for probably eight or nine years. I’ve stepped back the last two years and [current Relay for Life leadership chair] Sheila [Seidemann] has done a phenomenal job and everyone brings something different to the plate. We have a lot of talent and a lot of [generosity] in this town … The Cancer Society of Prince George is amazed at what we’ve done the last four or five years with a small committee. Terrace has previously had committees of 20 – 25 people and made $100,000. Well, we had 11 people this year and we’re at $88,000 so we’re making it work,” she said.
Cathy has seen people come and go through this transient town, but she knows there’s something a bit special about the city of Prince Rupert that makes it unique from any other.
“People come to Rupert and they say ‘I’m only staying here for five years’ and they’re still here 25 years later. But if you do leave, there’s something that you take with you that you always hold dear to your heart and that’s what I think Rupert is,” she said.