Celebrating Indigenous Peoples in the Skilled Trades: Rebecca Marshall

Rebecca Marshall
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This month, we are celebrating Indigenous Peoples in the skilled trades! Rebecca Marshall is a Red Seal Cook, who works as a Transport Canada Endorsed Ship's Cook aboard an Emergency Tow Vessel on the coast of British Columbia. Read this Q&A to learn more about her apprenticeship journey and what being Indigenous means to her. 

How did you first hear about the skilled trades and what inspired you to pursue it as a

portrait of Rebecca Marshall Red Seal ChefWhen I was little and fundraising for a soccer tournament, a grumpy old fart told me I should ‘be in the kitchen’, not out playing sports. So I took that personally and became a Professional Cook! I don't think that's what he was envisioning for me... jokes aside, I came to cooking when I was having a really hard time in life dealing with severe depression and anxiety. I took a job as a dishwasher for a compassionate Chef, mostly for the free staff meal every shift. My skills slowly grew, which taught me self-confidence and showed me the path to a better future than I had been headed for. 

Eventually another Chef I worked for asked me "What are you doing with your life? Why don't you register as my apprentice?" He explained that each level was only six weeks in school for technical training and that you receive a $1000 grant after each one. I signed up that evening after work and am so happy I made the choice to dive into a career in the skilled trades as it has brought me immense personal and professional fulfillment!

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

Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People's Day to me serve as important reminders to live in the truth of what happened in the past and to spend time learning about and deepening my understanding of reconciliation. 

It is also a way to bring to attention Indigenous success stories so that we may celebrate the resilience of Indigenous people and the commitment to preserving cultural practices and ways of knowing, being, and doing.

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

I now see programs such as Professional Cook Indigenous Levels 1, 2, and 3 at colleges as well as more land-based training being offered at places such as Tea Creek in Kitwanga, BC, where cultural safety is a priority.

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

Get connected with the Indigenous students organization at college. They understand the barriers that Indigenous students face and have access to the tools and resources that can for a smoother transition back into a learning environment. 

They facilitate cultural activities such as volunteering at Pit-Cooks as well as "crafternoons" - beading and weaving cedar bark - which are great ways to connect to and deepen one’s understanding of Indigenous identity and learn along with other Indigenous students from many different backgrounds. Having a connection to community is so important in the skilled trades education journey!