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Faces Behind the Trades

Photo of Jody, a tradesperson
Jody Laurin

Powerline Technician

“Go after your dream,” advises Jody Laurin. “It’s a great feeling when you accomplish what you set out to do. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Laurin is a Métis powerline technician from Tiny Township in the Georgian Bay region. Having participated in a joint Métis Nation-Georgian College program designed to boost the number of Aboriginal people working in the energy sector, he wants to get the word out to his peers that skilled trades careers are a worthwhile investment.

He says that Ontario’s indigenous communities are an ideal source of talent to potentially fill the projected shortage of skilled tradespeople in the province.

“I work with great people, I get to be outside and every day is different. On top of that, I’m paid really well to do my job. I love going to work every day and not many people get to say that.”

Photo of Simone Hewitt, a welder and steamfitter
Simone Hewitt

Steamfitter

Simone Hewitt’s roots in the skilled trades run deep.

“With my grandpa as a handyman and my stepdad as an electrician you might say the trades is a family affair,” says the 21-year-old Toronto resident.

Hewitt, who trained as a steamfitter at U.A. Local 46 in Scarborough, enjoys the feeling of having accomplished something at the end of the day.

“The trades give me the opportunity to work with my hands and really see the benefits first hand.”

As a young mother, Simone was inspired by her son to better herself by choosing a rewarding career path.

She loves driving by a place and thinking “cool, I helped build that.”

Darryl, a tradesperson standing behind his company truck.
Darryl Grenier

Residential Air Conditioning Systems Mechanic

Darryl Grenier was looking for a stable career in which he could flex his entrepreneurial muscles while using both his hands and his head.

“I went to school nights and weekends, obtained a gas fitter’s license, an apprenticeship and earned a ticket in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems,” explains Grenier.

And it paid off. The ambitious 39-year-old Métis tradesperson from Penetanguishene now owns DLZ Heating and Cooling, a business that employs several technicians (all members of the Ontario College of Trades).

“The Métis Nation of Ontario funded my training, and because of that I was able to start building my business,” says Grenier.  “There’s significant demand for skilled trade work right now. With the right training and hard work and a little bit of luck, you can launch a successful business.”

Photo of Dave, a motorcycle technician
Dave Shepherd

Motorcycle Technician

The first time Dave Shepherd saw a motorcycle, it was love at first sight.

In fact, as a youngster he couldn’t even walk past a motorcycle without getting excited.

So just as soon as he was old enough, Shepherd decided to get a job sweeping floors at a motorcycle shop just to be close to the objects of his affection.

It was a wise decision.

Working at the motorcycle shop was the first step towards his dream job: motorcycle technician.

Now he spends his time helping people get the most out of their bikes. Plus, Shepherd travels every year to Japan to test the latest bikes before they even hit the market.

It’s a tough gig, but somebody has to do it.

Photo of Johnny the plumber
Johnny Maracle

Plumber - Apprentice

Johnny Maracle has always been an ambitious young man.

As a teenager in Belleville, he excelled on the field, on the ice and in the classroom. After heading off to university, though, Maracle realized that what he really wanted was a career in which he could use his hands and his head.

Maracle gave plumbing a shot, and quickly embraced the challenges and opportunities his new career path offered.

The 20-year-old from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is now a plumbing apprentice with designs of one day owning his own business, or perhaps even teaching his trade in a college program.

Maracle believes that the number and diversity of trades– there are 156 trades in Ontario, from plumber to electrician to hairstylist– and the high demand for people with those skills should propel more young people and Aboriginal people to consider a career in the trades.

Photo of Kathy, a tradesperson
Kathy Clout

Electrician

Kathy Clout once planned on selling houses. Now she wires them.

Clout, a certified electrician and owner of Clout Industries, an electrical contracting, training and consulting company, studied marketing at Fanshawe College, and began her professional career at a London real estate firm.

After a few years in the real estate industry, however, she wasn’t entirely satisfied with her job.

She began exploring alternate career options, and enrolled in a skilled trades sampler program.

Clout, a problem solver who likes working with her hands, was a natural in the skilled trades; she apprenticed as a machinist and packaging mechanic before settling on electrician.

Years of working in various shops and factories gave Clout the experience and confidence she needed to open her own business.

Clout is a strong advocate for women in the trades, and she uses her position as a business owner to mentor girls and young women who are considering a career in the skilled trades.

“I love to teach girls how to use tools. And I always tell them, don’t be afraid to be the only girl. One will lead to another and then another. That’s how you start a movement.”

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