NOBA 2021: Larissa Stevens of LBS Environmental Consulting is the Young Entrepreneur of the Year

With a decade of experience under her belt, Stevens is currently working as the Community Consultation Coordinator for the Marten Falls Community Access Road Project.

Larissa Stevens considers herself a bit of a “shapeshifter”.

Whether it’s his natural ease in explaining a development project during a public engagement session or relaying the thoughts and concerns of a First Nations community to a group of engineers in a meeting room. meeting, the Thunder Bay-based environmental scientist is considered a trusted figure.

The 36-year-old Métis owner and president of LBS Environmental Consulting has spent a decade as an expert in environmental consulting and Indigenous community engagement.

One of his supporters wrote in an appointment letter about his expertise in the field and his prowess to operate and communicate effectively in any environment.

“His ability to understand, work and communicate across multiple levels and disciplines and to focus his scientific knowledge on hydrological systems and his environmental consulting experience through an indigenous perspective brings a field perspective to policy and policy discussions, or vice versa. versa, ”wrote Marten Falls. Chief Bruce Acheepineskum.

Although not a decision maker, her supporters have said Stevens is a trusted authority to provide “meaningful and unbiased information that enables informed decision making.”

“I’m really good at sitting down with community members and breaking science down into concepts that they can easily relate to,” Stevens said. “I’m kind of taking some of the technical jargon out where we can, so people can understand it better.”

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And on the other hand, “I can sit in the meeting room and let them know what the people in the field are thinking. They might have a good idea and I give them suggestions on how to put it into practice. work, in this way, it is better received. “

LBS started as a sole proprietorship in 2018, before incorporating last December when Stevens was tasked with being the community consultation coordinator to work on the Marten Falls Community Access Road.

Stevens works with the environmental manager, the project manager and a few community advisers within the project team for the road project.

“This is definitely the biggest project I have undertaken,” said Stevens, who is familiar with the government’s new environmental assessment rules for the highway project. “It’s a learning curve for everyone.”

Its functions consist of preparing public meetings, such as site coordination, preparation of material, presentation of presentations and maintenance of a consultation file on the project.

Born in Winnipeg and raised in Thunder Bay, Dryden and Sioux Lookout, Stevens grew up in a family of firefighters.

So by extension, “I decided to study water.

Educated in geology and water resources science at Lakehead University, Stevens brings to the table a decade of experience and technical expertise in environmental site assessments, soil remediation and compliance monitoring, as well as Indigenous counseling, engagement and counseling services.

Since entering the field as a junior technologist working for Terrapex Environmental in 2009, Stevens has specialized in the work of remote First Nations, beginning with the identification and formulation of remediation plans for them. contaminated areas caused by fuel spills.

“I work for the communities,” Stevens said.

It prides itself on providing “politically neutral”, trustworthy and transparent data, enabling leaders and indigenous peoples to make good decisions and better participate in mining, mineral exploration and infrastructure development. .

With his knowledge of indigenous rights, Stevens is an invaluable point of contact for management consultants, policy consultants and environmental engineering groups who are new to the region.

“What I really bring is this local knowledge, as I’ve done assessments and remedial actions in remote communities,” Stevens said. “I know the service providers and the challenges encountered during environmental work. I bring this local knowledge to the consultants, which is really helpful when they are not around.

During her professional journey working for a handful of environmental engineering companies and Indigenous authorities in Northwestern Ontario, Stevens became a known commodity of the Marten Falls First Nation, having worked with the remote community of the James Bay region on previous road studies.

The Marten Falls Community Access Road Project is a proposed permanent road connecting the community to the Ontario provincial highway system. The proposed length of the road is approximately 190 to 230 kilometers.

The terms of reference for the project were approved in mid-October. Environmental assessment work begins.

If mineral-rich areas of the Far North open up for development, Stevens recognizes that his expertise and skills will undoubtedly be in demand and there will likely be more work to come in the years to come.

“The road and the network are going to be the backbone of everything,” Stevens said.

Mining in the Ring of Fire will be a socio-economic event that will change the lives of Indigenous peoples for generations to come. Not only will there be jobs related to mining, but there will also be plenty of job opportunities for road maintenance and environmental monitoring.

“I am quite excited and proud to be a part of the project. I know what I’m doing really supports First Nations participation.

While eventually looking to hire a technician to ease the workload, Stevens admits she is eager to be a role model, especially for women trying to break into the environmental consulting field.

“It’s really not easy trying to do this job and try to have a family,” said the single mom of two eight and 11-year-olds who play hockey.

“I’ve lost my job, twice, after being pregnant. I’ve been through the ringing before. I know the challenges. I’ve walked in place and people say, ‘Who is sending this little girl here?’ “

She also hopes to work with PARO – the Thunder Bay-based women’s social enterprise organization that has helped her get incorporated and up-to-date in running a business – to further promote women who are in business. are entering this trade, starting small businesses, and benefiting from community economic development activities across Ontario.

Since their launch in 1986, the Northern Ontario Business Awards have grown into the largest annual gathering of its kind in Northern Ontario. These awards serve to increase the visibility and influence of businesses in the North and to bring peer recognition to the business leaders who create prosperity and economic growth.

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