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Pauline Mackenzie

I moved from Yellowknife, NWT, to Edmonton three years ago.  I am a Dene First Nation member.  I moved to get away from all the chaos, drugs and alcohol.  Since I don’t have any addictions, why be around all that?  I wanted something better and there weren’t a lot of options in Yellowknife.  After two years of dead end jobs, I was starting to question moving.  I saw an ad in the Edmonton Sun about Trade Winds to Success.  I decided to call since it was directed towards aboriginals.  My grandparents, parents and boyfriend are all in the trades and it piqued an interest.  When I was asked to come in, I took an equivalency test that Friday and started the following Monday.  It all happened so fast, and of all the people I met, some are still friends today.

The course helped upgrade my math, science and also enhanced my performance on the jobsite.  It was an amazing course and had a lot to offer.  I chose to be a pipefitter.  Why?  Pipefitting was something out of the ordinary, something new.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know what pipefitting was until I took the course.  I could have went with something I was familiar with such as carpentry and/or baker, but why settle for something easy?  I wanted to not only show myself but everyone else that being an aboriginal woman, there can be obstacles in the way, but we can overcome these barriers.  We all have goals and we can reach them no matter what!

I picked one of the top three I thought were the most difficult and became a pipefitter.  The money is very attractive!  Transferring to the 488 Training Centre was just a test of what’s really out there.  We learned how to read pipeline maps, ISO maps, how to steam trace and how to rig (I didn’t even know what rigging was).  We also learned techniques in welding and grinding, we welded up a piggy bank for one of our projects.  Personally, I don’t have the heart for welding, but I did it with pride because it was my first welding job and now it is sitting in my backyard where everyone can see it.  There was also a lot more we learned at Trade Winds and the five months I spent there were five months I wouldn’t change.  So keep an open mind to the jobs and tasks that will be asked of you every day.  Why be somewhere every day if you don’t want to?  I wanted to be there and I always showed up with a smile.

So five months later, what has all this done for me?   I am a first year apprentice pipe fitter and just days away from becoming a union member.   I have a great paying job that offers a life I didn’t think I would get so fast.  I love going to work everyday and we also have weekends that are optional to work.  I meet people every day, on site.  I get to travel a lot more (something I’ve always wanted to do).  I also see my family a lot more, because of the money I make I can afford to travel there.  And the big bonus is my CAR, yeah, working on site for three months got me my car and I did it all by myself — no co-signer, no help from mommy or daddy!  Just thinking about where I was before Trade Winds, I am amazed how far I’ve come and how much further I can go, just because I made that call.

So, to all of you who are in this course or reading this right now, look at your life, take a good, hard look at it.  Things can get better, simple things like paying bills on time, becoming debt free, having food on the table and a roof over your head.  Are there places you would like to travel, perhaps you want to own a house or new vehicle?   The possibilities are endless if you want them bad enough.  Believe me, when I say that “Trade Winds to Success” is a door open to all of the above.  If you are in the course, stick with it and show up every day.  You’ll be glad you did, I know I am!!!

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