New Six Nations program trains women to become welders

A Six Nations school has launched a new program to teach low-income women to weld.
A student works on a welding project at a Fort McMurray welding camp last year. Six Nations Polytechnic has started a new We Are Welders program aimed at getting women to learn welding. (David Thurton/ CBC)

A Six Nations school has launched a new program to train low-income women to be welders.

Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) will teach the trade tuition-free to women, Indigenous or not, to fill what it says is a dramatic local need for more welders. 

Over 28 weeks, the women will also learn resume building, confidence building, life skills and trades math. They'll finish with an eight-week on-the-job placement.

"The idea is to get them out of that poverty level and get them into a career," said Mary Fuke, SNP development officer for skilled trades. "Not just a job, but a career."

The program, We Are Welders, aims to train three cohorts of a dozen women over the next two years. There's a growing demand for good welders, said Rebecca Jamieson, SNP president, in a media release. And SNP wanted to respond fast.

SNP has reached out to social assistance and skills development offices to urge women to join. No one has signed up yet, Fuke said, but she hopes for as many as a dozen by the June 18 start date.

SNP already offers regular welding classes, she said, and two women are learning welding now.

The new program will have a broader focus though — on life skills, resume building, team building.

"They're going to be going into a workplace where there aren't many women," Fuke said. "We want them to be confident when they get there."

The province is giving up to $307,295 through the Ministry of the Status of Women. SNP is partnering with Canadore College. Graduates will get a combined certificate.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca