Dec 10, 2019
We recently sat down with Dayna Georges for a conversation about her journey through the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) Indigenous Apprenticeship Program to attain the highest certification in her chosen skilled trade.
Dayna is a Métis woman and mother. She recently attained her Interprovincial Journeyperson-certification as a Heavy Duty Equipment Technician (Class of 2019), and currently works with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure as a mechanic. The Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission describes Heavy Duty Equipment Technician program as a ‘male-dominated trade.’
Dayna noted that she has always enjoyed making things with her hands. After completing high school, she decided to visit Gabriel Dumont Institute to learn about opportunities that are available. “Well, I am Métis, and the GDI Indigenous Apprenticeship Program offers funding and support to Métis people. So, it was a good choice.”
She started the apprenticeship program in January 2011 and soon completed Heavy Duty Equipment Technician Level 1. Dayna then took time away from the apprenticeship program and got a job.
She returned to continue her training and successfully wrote her journeyperson exams in August 2019.
About Gabriel Dumont Institute and the Kaylie Bell, the employment counsellor who worked closely with her, Dayna says, “They stood by me from the moment I began this journey. Even after stepping away from my career goal for a little while, it was not hard to go back to where I left off.” She continued, “GDI did not give up on me. Rather, they stood by me until I achieved my goal of becoming a journeyperson.”
When asked if there was any specific experience with GDI that she would like to talk about, Dayna said: “All of my experiences with GDI are positive! From funding, down to receiving help to get to school and preparing for exams. And having such an amazing counsellor, Kaylie Bell, who helped me with everything I needed, and kept me on top of all the paper work was fantastic.”
So, what was it like for Dayna to be a woman in male-dominated trade? “It was tough, I am not going to lie,” she said. Adding, “But there were also positives as well. In my own experience, I had to prove myself a lot. There were always those who doubted my ability and drive. However, as each year passed, I think I did okay, that is why they kept me around.”
When asked about her current employment, Dayna said, “I love working at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure in Meadow Lake. I get to work on a variety of equipment alongside amazing coworkers who have become important part of my life.”
Dayna offered a few words to those, especially Indigenous women, who are considering careers in the skilled trades: “Keep your head up. There will always be good and bad in every situation.” She continued, “Keep reading your schoolwork even when you don’t have to;” and “Always, always ask questions!” Dayna pointed out that “the best way to learn [is to] get your hands dirty.” Learn by doing.
Now that she has completed her training and started her career with the Ministry of Highways, what are Dayna’s professional goals? Her answer is simple. “To further my knowledge, and hope to train someone as good as the guys who trained me.”
Dayna concluded our conversation by expressing her gratitude to those who supported her along the way. “Thank you so so much to GDI and the Ministry of Highways for sticking by me and pushing me to finally be where I need to be.”
Over the years, Gabriel Dumont Institute’s partnership with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways has provided opportunities for several Indigenous people to complete their apprenticeship training at the Ministry’s facilities across the province. Dayna Georges is the latest Métis woman to complete her journeyperson certification via the GDI Indigenous Apprenticeship Program and has been offered employment by the Ministry.
By James Oloo and Kaylie Bell