Meet Alyssha Hansma, town’s HR manager

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Town of Fort Frances has been on a roll, hiring individuals who are looking to embrace the town, its people – and the weather.

Alyssha Hansma, the Town of Fort Frances’ Human Resources manager, joined the town’s administration 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 stayed in Manitoba since then, working with different employers and gaining experience prior to her arrival in November.

“The weather is pretty comparable to Winnipeg, so that has been an easy transition,” Hansma said. “The biggest adjustment has been just being in a small town, but during COVID-19 everybody was isolated.”

Because Hansma’s fiance, Cole Derksen, is from the region, they were both looking to work in the same town; he was previously working a rotating schedule in Winnipeg.

“This job opportunity came up, so I applied and shortly after that, my fiance was able to get a job at New Gold mine,” Hansma said. “My in-laws live in town. We’re actually living next door to them, so that’s really nice. It’s nice to have some family nearby, because neither of us had any family nearby in Winnipeg.”

Prior to her arrival, Hansma was working at the Health Sciences Centre as a senior human resources consultant. She said her previous supervisor, Michael Bereziak, was a great mentor and resource. Bereziak also had municipal experience working as the director of labour 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, that I really hope that I can emulate those skills and he was really great at making people feel welcome,” she said. “No problem was too small for him to listen to. He had an open door and listened to any problem. I want people to feel comfortable coming to me no matter what the problem is, and feeling that they’re being listened to and heard.”

As an HR manager at the town, Hansma will provide support to the employees and the senior management team. She will also provide different resources and tools to make sure that employees have the best experience when they work with the town and try to make the Town of Fort Frances a place that people want to work, so that they can attract both local candidates and those from other jurisdictions.

Hansma stressed that the most important trait is willingness to listen to people’s concerns, as well as a curiosity about what driveds those concerns. People spend much of their day at work, Hansma said, and if they are not heard, it can be challenging to want to work for an organization.

However, Hansma still has to adjust to a few things.

“My last employer had over 8,000 employees, and the town here has 8,000 people,” she chuckled. “It’s a bit of an adjustment in terms of the size. I do really enjoy that through my job here, and I’ll get to know all of the employees, whereas in my last role, I wouldn’t have had as many touch points with employees,” she said.

“I’m definitely looking forward to getting to know people on a more personal level as well as a professional one.”

In her free time, Hansma likes to snowshoe, hike and swim. Although she has not had the chance to snowshoe because of the cold weather, she is looking forward to getting out soon, as well as spending more time at the family cabin.

She is also an avid quilter, gaining much experience from her experience working as a seamstress.

“I started quilting three years ago,” she said. “I mainly do baby quilts for friends. A lot of my friends are having kids right now.”

Hansma is a part of all personnel selections for the town of Fort Frances. She said there is a lot of opportunity for people from other jurisdictions coming into the town, noting that she, the municipal clerk and CAO are from out of town.

She added that people are more willing to move right now, because they have seen that they can still be connected with people, even though they are not physically seen.

“I’m really looking forward to working for the town, I think it’s a really unique opportunity to try and make changes and get people interested in working for the town,” Hansma said. “I see a lot of potential here. I think the town has a lot of great initiatives and being able to work for an employer that is trying to do so much for the community is really exciting to me.”

Town of Fort Frances Human Resources manager Alyssha Hansma with Cole Derksen, her fiance. Hansma joined the Town of Fort Frances last November, and she is ready to enjoy everything that Fort Frances has to offer. – Submitted photo