Celebrating Indigenous Peoples in the Skilled Trades: Chelsea Barron

Red Seal Machinist
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For Chelsea Barron, growing up in a family of tradespeople made the decision of pursuing a career in the skilled trades a natural choice. Read on to learn about her Red Seal journey as well as her reflections on what Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People's Day means to her. 

Portrait of Chelsea BarronHow did you first hear about the skilled trades and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?

Growing up in a family of tradespeople, it was a natural choice. My brother and my dad both work in the skilled trades and my mom worked at ACCESS Trades at the time. 

All these influences helped guide me to where I am today. I knew I wanted to create and build things and becoming a Machinist was the best decision I ever made. 

What does Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People's Day mean to you?

Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People's Day is a time where I honor my family and my roots. I am a proud member of the Chilcotin (Tsilhqot'in) Nation. I reflect on how far we have come in the Indigenous community and how we are continuing to grow and heal and become stronger together. 

My Grandmother was a Residential School survivor and my mother was a 60's Scoop baby. The strength and perseverance they both had is something I will forever be grateful for, as they survived so I could thrive. Indigenous culture is a treasure and deserves to be honoured and respected in Canada

Has the trades industry become more inclusive of Indigenous people since you joined the trades? What progress, if any, has been made? 

SkilledTradesBC has a dedicated department to Indigenous programs that provide support to Indigenous people and communities throughout BC. Through this, they have increased Indigenous participation in the trades training programs and apprenticeship pathways. Through their partnerships within industries and training providers, it has resulted in further strengthening the bridging of Indigenous people into employment and sponsorship. 

From my personal experience, I have participated in numerous trade events at BCIT & Junior Achievement BC which target Indigenous youth to help promote the skilled trades and enhance participation rates amongst Indigenous youth moving forward. 

What advice would you have given yourself when you first started your career in the trades?

My advice would be to dedicate myself to learning, no matter how difficult it may seem at first. I would tell myself that there are tough lessons to learn ahead, but nothing good will come easy and you must work hard for it. 

My biggest piece of advice for when I first started would be to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Push yourself out of your comfort zone because this is where you will grow and learn the most. New tasks means new skills. If I had told my 18-year-old self that one day I would be standing in front of 16 students in a classroom teaching a trade, I wouldn't believe it but here I am doing it everyday and loving it. 

Is there anything else you'd like to mention?

As a proud Indigenous woman, and a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, I appreciate the support and recognition that this month brings, and I will continue to work closely with SkilledTradesBC to help promote diversity and inclusion amongst the skilled trades.