BCCWITT recently organized the first ever Leaders in Trades Training Conference (LITTCon23) to unite all Representatives in a weekend of learning, sharing, exploration, and networking.
SkilledTradesBC has been a proud supporter of BCCWITT (BC Centre for Women in Trades Training) for years and has helped facilitate the delivery of the Regional Representative program (RRP) since its inception. The program recruits and trains groups of tradespeople and apprentices from underrepresented groups to develop their own personal and professional leadership abilities. The program has trained nearly 150 participants since 2021 who represent 33 different skilled trades, identify as Indigenous, people of colour, people with disabilities, immigrants, 2SLGBTQIA+, or women, and are committed to becoming leaders in building a more equitable skilled trades sector.
BCCWITT recently organized the first ever Leaders in Trades Training Conference (LITTCon23) to unite all Representatives in a weekend of learning, sharing, exploration, and networking. The conference was held over three days in Richmond, BC. SkilledTradesBC staff attended the event including Juliana de Souza, Manager, Trades Inclusion & Access, who gave a speech at the welcome dinner, as well as Chelsea Neis, Kathleen Scott and Robyn Hacking attending as Regional Representatives.
The main purpose of the event was to highlight the work of RRP participants, inspire one another, and foster collaboration. Presentation topics at the conference included:
Unique pathways in trades careers
Community projects, volunteer opportunities and useful skills in the industry
How to be more than a bystander to gender based bullying and harassment
Challenges and successes of running a business
Understanding privilege through an intersectional lens
Read on to hear from Alycia Guile, Chelsea Neis, Kathleen Scott, and Robyn Hacking on their stories and reflections at this year’s LITTCon event.
Alycia Guile, BCCWiTT Executive Assistant
Fostering these connections and providing a space for equity priority tradespeople to connect and grow is critical to the retention of this skilled workforce. Each RRP cohort was trained in isolation from one another and so this conference was critical to foster connections between the trades, geographical regions, and cohorts. It also refreshed the desire for a lot of Regional Representative Participants to continue the amazing leadership work they are doing and get ideas for even more.
LITTCON was incredible for me to be a part of. Being a part of providing the space for the equity-priority tradespeople in our program to connect with one another was so inspiring and watching them make connections with one another made my heart so happy.
Chelsea Neis, SkilledTradesBC Apprenticeship Advisor
I joined BCCWITT to be able to connect with other tradeswomen. I hadn’t met many other tradeswomen and wanted a chance to speak with a group that had shared experiences. When I was invited back to attend a week-long event for more training, I accepted. This training was the pilot for the Regional Rep program that continues to run today. I regularly attend BCCWITT conferences and training in order to continue to build connections and experience any diversity and inclusion training that they offer.
As a member of a wider group of Regional Reps, having a province wide community of people that will support you is a powerful feeling.
LITTCon was crazy. There were so many participants. My favourite memory is a connection I made with a second year electrical apprentice. She was preparing herself for the Provincial Skills Canada Competition and struggling with the wording on the assignment and what she had to do. Another tradeswomen called me over and I sat with her and we worked it all out. I helped her visualize her project and worked with what she already had written down to build her game plan. I heard back from her a week later and she was so amazing that she won gold in her category.
Kathleen Scott, SkilledTradesBC Apprenticeship Advisor
I became a Regional Rep because I wanted to be a mentor to inspire other people, especially women in the trades. Being a Rep means I get to encourage people in the trades. Going to the LITTCon was just as empowering as the cohort I was in.
Some of my favourite moments of LITTCon were:
Listening to the other women on the panel talk about their journey how they expressed themselves so eloquently.
Seeing familiar faces and meeting new people. I had a bag of Red Seal pins so I went around the room meeting people giving out pins, which turned out to be a great ice breaker.
Laughing so hard on Friday night -- it was so much fun to be with this group.
Having a photography session with a professional photographer to get some great headshots!
Robyn Hacking, SkilledTradesBC Skilled Trades Certification Advisor
I attended the third Regional Rep cohort in Prince George, March 2022. The week was long, intensive and a ton of work, yet such a positive experience. I made a good number of friends from all over the province and reinforced existing relationships with other like-minded tradeswomen who go the extra mile for tradeswomen advocacy and community involvement.
As for LITTCon 2023, it was a great experience. The workshops were valuable and the sharing sessions each morning were eye-opening and uplifting. After presenting an excerpt from her book and sitting in a couple of workshops together, I had the chance to meet author, poet and retired boilermaker Hilary Peach. We shared some stories, jokes, beers, and she even signed a copy of her book “Thick Skin: Field Notes From A Sister In The Brotherhood” for me, and one for my mom. It is an excellent read and I am having a hard time putting it down.
LITTCon gave me an opportunity to reconnect with Regional Reps from my own cohort and to connect with other Regional Reps from Vancouver Island (and beyond) that had attended other cohorts. This built up my significant connections with the tradeswomen community in my region. The intent of the conference was for us to connect more wholly and to get to know one another, so mission accomplished!
It is impossible to explain the energy one experiences when immersed in an environment with that level of positive energy, support, and open discussion about so many important issues.