Apr 21, 2017
By James Oloo
Gabriel Dumont Institute Training & Employment is proud to announce that Valine Gaudet, a client in the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project, has successfully written and passed the Inter-Provincial Red Seal Electrical exam.
We sat down with Valine on March 22, 2017 to discuss her experience since coming to Gabriel Dumont Institute. From the celebratory mood at the Gabriel Dumont Institute Training & Employment office, it was clear that there is great delight in seeing young men and women, who often face various barriers, come to Gabriel Dumont Institute grow, learn, and succeed. Indeed, the Institute employees derive much joy from being a part of a student or client’s journey towards reaching their desired goal.
All of Valine’s cousins had Métis cards. So, in 2011 she came to Gabriel Dumont Institute to apply for her own Métis card. That is how she met Dwayne Docken, Employment Counselor at Gabriel Dumont Institute Training & Employment, who told her about the newly launched Skills and Partnership Fund GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Initiative. Valine immediately liked the idea of joining the program and soon applied.
At the time, the only training Valine had taken in the trades was Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Women in Trades Exploratory Course. The hands-on eight-day workshop gives women with no experience in the trades a chance to try their skills at Automotive Servicing, Carpentry, Electrical, Machining, Plumbing, and Welding. Valine knew she wanted to be an electrician and that she “had to start learning about the trade from the scratch.”
In a January 2014 GDI Communicator article that featured her, Valine stated that she loved her job as Year II Apprentice Electrician and had plans to get her journeyperson certification and start her own company. She noted that Gabriel Dumont Institute had “set (her) up for life.”
The Skills and Partnership Fund GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Initiative was a very successful program that ended in 2014 and was succeeded by the current Western Economic Diversification Canada-funded GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project. Valine was funded by both programs.
So, how has it been like being a female in male-dominated trade? For Valine, “being a female on (work) site was sometimes tough. Sexist comments caught me off guard. A woman working in a place where men are the majority can be judged by her looks and her dress. Funny thing is, the comments can be that you are ‘pretty’ or not pretty enough.” She continues, “You cannot let that negative vibe affect you. You have to grow a thick skin and try to be part of the guys instead of being a girl among boys.”
Valine states that, “At times females in male dominated trades get pushed aside. Don’t cry; rather fight for what you want. Speak out.” She continues, the “rewards of being a woman in the trades far outweigh the challenges you may go through. So, just get through the frustrations. Persevere, give it your best and it will be ok.”
Looking back at her apprenticeship experience, Valine kept saying that “I can’t believe that I am now a journeyperson construction electrician.” This is because, “I did not realize how much math was involved in training to become an electrician. I had learning disability yet I surprised myself by passing. I studied a lot. I worked hard every night on math. I did not want to fail or quit. I passed. First attempt!”
Valine thanks her family for the support and motivation to succeed: “All my family members were very encouraging. They motivated me to keep going.”
Valine goes back to the day she came to Gabriel Dumont Institute for the first time. “Dwayne changed my life, and he has been very awesome since then. He helped me lots. He knows the industry and his advice has been absolutely useful.” She also thanks Gabriel Dumont Institute for “opening doors for me. Had it not been for GDI my life would probably be worse today.” As she puts it, “GDI provided me with financial assistance to buy books, tools, plus helped me with my travel expenses.”
Valine is thankful for the employer GDI sent her to. As she puts it, “My first foreman showed me the ropes. He did not treat me differently, but he brought me under his wings. It was my first time on the worksite, but he set me on the right path and taught me. He was a good supervisor.”
Valine is planning on working for a few years then going back to school to get her Blue Seal certification. The Blue Seal will enable her to own her own business. Congratulations Valine.