Skilled Trades Resources

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Skilled Trades STEMforGIRLS Role Models

Jenny Brake

Program Coordinator, OAWA; Western Vice Chief, Qalipu First Nation

If they can see it, they can be it!

Corner Brook, NL

Current community of residence:

Corner Brook, NL

Education (Certificates, Programs, and School Names):
  • 4th Year Welding Apprentice, CNA; Textile Studies (Fine Arts), CNA
What do you love most about your profession? Why did you choose this career?

I did not have these supports when I did my trade 17 years ago. My work with the office allows me to assist others which I find very rewarding. In my role as Vice Chief, I am also able to help women in trades as well as Indigenous tradespeople by offering services with educational training and wage subsidies. I still work with my tools because I love to work with my hands and love to combine my artistic side with my knowledge of welding. I have been commissioned to do artistic pieces for my community and still enjoy my ability to fix and create whenever I have time.

When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM or Skilled Trades?

I had been under my father's feet since I could walk. Following him around insisting that he include me in every project he worked on. He is a carpenter but a jack of all trades. He made me the Jenny of all trades that I am now. He introduced me to all types of trades work, but welding really brought out a passion in me. I find it very meditative and creative. It really pushes me to be a critical thinker and requires so much focus. I learned to weld at 14 years old and started my trade at 24. I was determined that being a woman wouldn't hold me back from my passion for becoming a tradesperson.

Why do we need more women in STEM and Skilled Trades?

Because diversity creates a respectful balance. We need more women to create a new normal and break down the ideas of "male or female-dominated workplaces". It's the right person for the job, not gender.

How do you think the school you went to influenced your career?

I thrived in Arts mostly. I worried that my weakness in math might affect my ability to be successful in trades but once I was able to practically apply my math to my hands-on work, math became one of my favourite subjects!

What does your typical workday involve? Can you work remotely? (indoors/outdoors, office/plant, travel time, teamwork/solo work)

I am no longer employed on my tools, I now work with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices to support women in skilled trades.

Who is your role model? What is it about this person inspires you?

My role models are my parents. I was raised without ever hearing "That's not for girls or That's only for boys". They have always fostered my ambitions and never made me feel that I couldn't reach my goals.

What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?

I take every opportunity I can to stay connected to the land with my Indigenous culture. I paint, sculpt, bead and knit. I have three beautiful children that keep me smiling and very busy as well!

What superhero do you relate to most?

Princess Leia for sure! She was so in charge and so stylish!

Anything else you wish to share?

Always push yourself outside of your comfort zone, there's so much out there to explore!


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