Mothers and Daughters Skilled Trades Awareness Conference

April 1, 2010, 2:50 PM EST

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The CAW and the Saugeen First Nation Education Department held a joint Mothers and Daughters Skilled Trades Awareness conference at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario on March 25-28.

The three-day conference involved over 80 mothers and daughters of the Saugeen and Chippewa's of Nawash First Nations. Its aim was to ensure First Nations women understood the opportunities available to them in skilled trades as a form of career employment, especially in the face of widespread labour shortages for trades work.

The conference also provided an opportunity for First Nations women to network with women skilled trades members in the CAW.

"Putting together this program for moms and daughters was realized after talking with participants at a CAW Women's Conference a few years ago," said Gayle Mason Stark, director of the education program for Saugeen First Nation.

"Participants stated that they wished their mothers could have been aware of the career opportunities in skilled trades long ago. We thought that this is the way to go, if Saugeen First Nation women are to have access to these opportunities, I need to give them the tools and kick the door open."

Through a series on hands-on workshops conference participants were given the opportunity to assemble and program robots, were given an introduction to the basics of electrical wiring and educated on health and safety laws, among other skills development initiatives.

"Our union understands that because of the current tough economic conditions apprenticeship opportunities are hard to find, but know that over the long term a skilled trade is an extremely worthwhile career to consider, especially for women," said Colin Heslop, CAW Director of Skilled Trades.

"Through this joint education program we really wanted to emphasize that all women have a vital role to play in skilled trades and that these are viable career options, particularly for our First Nations brothers and sisters," said Teresa Weymouth, CAW Skilled Trades Coordinator.

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