The town of Fort Frances is on a roll, hiring people looking to embrace the town, its people – and the weather.
Alyssha Hansma, Director of Human Resources for the City of Fort Frances, joined the city’s administrative team in November 2021.
Born and raised in Calgary, Hansma moved to Manitoba in 2009 to study psychology and business at the University of Manitoba. She has remained in Manitoba since, working with different employers and gaining experience before arriving in November.
“The weather is pretty comparable to Winnipeg, so the transition was easy,” Hansma said. “The biggest adjustment was just being in a small town, but during COVID-19 everyone was isolated.”
Because Hansma’s fiance, Cole Derksen, is from the area, they were both looking to work in the same city; he previously worked a rotating schedule in Winnipeg.
“This job opportunity came up so I applied and soon after my fiancé was able to get a job at the New Gold mine,” Hansma said. “My in-laws live in town. We actually live next door to them, so that’s really nice. It’s nice to have family nearby, as neither of us had family nearby in Winnipeg.
Prior to her arrival, Hansma worked at the Health Sciences Center as a senior human resources consultant. She said her previous supervisor, Michael Bereziak, was a great mentor and resource. Bereziak also had municipal experience as the Director of Labor Relations for the City of Winnipeg, which benefited Hansma.
“But he brought a wealth of knowledge about human resources, practices, management in terms of people skills, which I really hope I can emulate those skills and he was really good at making people feel welcome,” she said. “No problem was too small for him to listen. He had an open door and listened to any trouble. I want people to feel comfortable coming to me, whatever the issue, and to feel like they’re listened to and heard.
As the city’s human resources manager, Hansma will provide support to employees and the management team. She will also provide different resources and tools to ensure employees have the best experience when working with the city and try to make the city of Fort Frances a place where people want to work, so they can attract both local applicants and those from other jurisdictions.
Hansma pointed out that the most important trait is the willingness to listen to people’s concerns, as well as the curiosity to know what drives those concerns. People spend a large part of their day at work, Hansma said, and if they aren’t heard, it can be hard to want to work for an organization.
However, Hansma still has to adapt to some things.
“My last employer had over 8,000 employees, and the town here has 8,000 people,” she laughed. “It’s a bit of an adjustment in terms of size. I really appreciate that through my job here, and I will get to know all of the employees, whereas in my last role I wouldn’t have had so many employee touchpoints,” she said. .
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know people on a more personal as well as professional level.”
In her spare time, Hansma enjoys snowshoeing, hiking and swimming. Although she hasn’t had a chance to snowshoe due to the cold weather, she is looking forward to getting out soon and spending more time at the family cabin.
She is also an avid quilter, gaining a lot of experience from her work experience as a seamstress.
“I started making quilts three years ago,” she said. “I mainly make baby quilts for friends. A lot of my friends have kids right now.
Hansma is part of all personnel selections for the city of Fort Frances. She said there are lots of opportunities for people from other jurisdictions to come to the city, noting that she, the city clerk and the chief executive come from out of town.
She added that people are more willing to move at the moment because they have seen that they can still be in contact with people, even if they are not physically seen.
“I’m really looking forward to working for the city, I think it’s a really unique opportunity to try to bring about change and get people interested in working for the city,” Hansma said. “I see a lot of potential here. I think the city has a lot of great initiatives and being able to work for an employer who is trying to do the same for the community is really exciting for me.