New Brunswick

All-women hunting course makes students feel 'at ease'

When Gisele Gaudet took a firearms safety and hunting education course for the first time, she didn't feel quite comfortable. The class was made up mostly of men and had a male instructor.

'As long as we have the positive feedback, we'll definitely continue,' says instructor

Jenna Bullied, left, Gisele Gaudet and Annette Gallant-Carter helped teach an all-women firearms safety and hunting course on Saturday. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

When Gisele Gaudet took a firearms safety and hunting education course for the first time, she didn't feel quite comfortable. The class was made up mostly of men with a male instructor.

"It was nerve-wracking for her," said Annette Gallant-Carter, a fellow volunteer at an all-women hunting and firearm safety education course on Saturday. "She wasn't very comfortable doing the course."

Gallant-Carter is the training resource officer for the province's Department of Energy and Resource Development, so when it came time for her to take the course again, she wanted to be in a class with all women.  

"I thought I would feel more comfortable with women," Gallant-Carter said. "I took the women's course and loved it."

This Saturday was the third time an all-women hunting permit course has been put on by the New Brunswick government.

Gallant-Carter said the classes fill up fast and each course has had a full crew of around 25 students.

"The interest is there and that's why we're doing it."

Most of the students in the class on Saturday were between age 20-50. People have to be at least 12 to be able to take the course.

Jenna Bullied, a forest ranger with the Department of Energy and Resource Development, said all-women classes can make students feel more comfortable in a classroom environment. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

"Every woman is here for a different reason," Gallant-Carter said. "It could be because they're intimidated by men or are more comfortable with a group of women."

Gallant-Carter said the number of women taking the hunting and firearms licence course has increased since the 1990s. The number of women participating was around 100 female students in the early days.

Demand for course takes leap

In 2017 and 2018, however, more than 1,000 female students participated.

"The rise in women interested in the sport is huge in that period of time."

Gaudet said there has been positive feedback from the female students. They say they feel at ease taking the course with female instructors.

"That's really our goal, to make them feel at ease," Gaudet said. "As long as we have the positive feedback, we'll definitely continue."

Jenna Bullied, an instructor for Saturday's class, agreed an all-women's hunting course is important.

'Women learn in a different way'

"Women learn in a different way," Bullied said.

"I think that women also teach in a different way, so just being able to have a person that you can relate to when you're a student is really important and just a basic level of comfort as well."

Gallant-Carter said at the end of the last course, women came up to her, hugged her and said, "Oh my God, I'm so glad I tested with you."  

The next all-women firearms safety and hunter education course will be held in 2020 — or sooner, depending on demand.

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