Women in Trades

L-R back Heather Tomsic, Janet Lane, Kate Braid, Marilyn Lanz; front Judy Doll, Tamara Pongracz (Photo Karin Wells)

L-R back Heather Tomsic, Janet Lane, Kate Braid, Marilyn Lanz; front Judy Doll, Tamara Pongracz (Photo Karin Wells)

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Kate Braid will tell you, "I was raised to be a 'nice girl.'"

"I really was," she adds, in case you don't believe her. Her middle-class Montreal family hoped she'd grow up to be a teacher or a nurse. She wound up on one of the Gulf Islands in BC - it was the seventies after all - and that's where Kate Braid, much to her own surprise, found her calling.

She became a carpenter, a red seal, fully-certified, on the tools, construction carpenter. She loved working 17 stories up in the air, building forms, pouring cement, one woman in a crew of men.
Every night Kate Braid would come home and write about her new world. A world where she didn't fit in.

Over the next 15 years, she found other women: a welder here, an electrician there, her good friend the avionics mechanic who worked on engines for CP Air. Together they formed Vancouver Women in Trades.

Since then, Kate Braid has published 10 books, many of them books of poetry, but most recently a memoir: Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man's World.

On the day that Karin Wells met her in Vancouver, half a dozen of those pioneer trades women, old friends from 35 years ago, got together. They had been asked to tell their stories for Simon Fraser University's series, "Herstory". They hadn't seen each other for years.

Karin's documentary is called "Nothing personal, but you're a woman."

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