Emily Lamarche says she doesn't judge people based on what they're going through.
Lamarche, 26, is a member of Taykwa Tagamou Nation born and was raised in Cochrane. She works as the operations manager at CQ Industrial Laundry.
The business is owned by Lamarche's mother, Tina Sheridan.
Growing up, Lamarche was a very reserved, shy child. Whenever there was a gathering, she was the quietest person in the room.
Moving into business and taking a managing position helped her come out of her shell. At first, Lamarche was worried about being a boss to people older than her and was concerned if they would take her seriously or whether she’d be able to do manage the business.
“I took on the role pretty quickly and well, and it helped me grow into who I am now. And I’m thankful for that now,” she says.
Lamarche started working at CQ Industrial Laundry as the transportation manager at the age of 23. Before then, she was a personal support worker providing home care.
She was mostly raised by her grandmother with whom she spent a lot of time together. To this day, they’re like two peas in a pod, Lamarche says.
“I remember being five years old curling her hair and I just loved helping her. And I just loved helping people, so I just wanted a career to follow that,” she explains choosing to study the PSW program at Canadore College.
Business runs in Lamarche’s family, so when Sheridan needed help at the laundry facility, Lamarche started working there.
“Me and my family are very mechanically inclined. When it comes to transportation, I was dealing with 16-foot box trucks and some diesel trucks. My job was to maintain those vehicles and maintain the trailers,” she says adding it was her father who gave her knowledge in mechanics.
She then moved on to be the operations manager of the whole facility.
CQ Industrial Laundry, located in Cochrane, has five employees, 90 per cent of whom are women. Most of the workers are Indigenous as well.
In her role managing the facility, Lamarche says she supports her staff when they need help.
The company focuses on hiring locally and provides training to people who have limited education or no work experience. It has also sponsored local hockey teams and baseball leagues, supplied jerseys and baseball shirts, and provided donations within the community.
What she is passionate about is being able to give people an opportunity to have a job and a career when they’re at their "lowest in life.”
“We’ve had some people recovering from drug addictions or alcohol addictions. We would give them chances, they would be healthy by the time they start working,” she says.
Giving people an opportunity to make money and support their families helped Lamarche get through a lot of hard days as she built strong friendships with her staff. Lamarche says she knows she’s doing something right as a person and as a manager because she doesn’t judge people based on what they’re going through.
“If I can make people’s lives easier or better while they’re working for such a great company, it’s a win-win for me,” she says.
Without support from her partner, Lamarche says she wouldn’t be able to get through managing the business, especially during the pandemic, and taking care of her three-year-old daughter. Lamarche is also expecting another child.
Over the last three years, Lamarche says she has watched herself grow and become more independent, strong and confident. As a hard-working go-getter, who bought her first home at the age of 21, Lamarche says she’s proud of the fact she can give her children a good life.
“My daughter has watched me start from the bottom and work my way up. I’m proud of the mom that I am and the person I became just because I decided to make this life for myself and my family,” she says.
As a person with Indigenous roots, Lamarche keeps in touch with traditions and culture. She doesn’t speak the language but can understand some of it. The staff at the laundry facility can also take time off during a fall hunt or spring hunt or for any cultural activities.
In the next few years, Lamarche is hoping to take over the ownership of the business and help it grow.
"I want to continue in business, I love it. Just to see where it's come from in the last three years, I think it can be something big and amazing and I can't wait to see where I can go with it," she says.