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Success Stories 


When Amber, a fully qualified train conductor, first thought about a job in trades, the railroad was not the first industry to come to mind. “I honestly wouldn’t have even thought twice about working for the railroad,” she said. “It didn’t cross my mind as an option; but the railroader lifestyle is a perfect fit for me. I like having weekdays off and working nights. The shift work works well with my current lifestyle. So for me, it’s a perfect fit.” Amber is an alumni of our Journeywoman Start program, and spent 17 weeks exploring opportunities in trades across an array of industries. While railroading is typically a pre-dominately male industry, Amber assures others that there is lots of room for women at the railroad. "If you're looking for a long time career go for it," she said. “Don’t let the industry intimidate you, don’t let the typical stereotypes scare you as well."Times have changed.”

Success Story - Gloria

“I had never considered trades. I’m the first girl in my family to be in the trades.”Gloria first heard about Women Building Futures from a coworker in customer service at a home hardware store. Though she’d worked retail most of her life, she was intrigued by what she heard about WBF and decided to apply.“I thought it would be impossible to get in, so when I did I thought it was a dream come true,” Gloria said. She quit her job and got into the Journeywoman Start program. For Gloria, the best part of her experience was how capable she felt after she graduated. “You get out of your bubble and your comfort zone….For me it was the best thing I’ve ever done, by far.”


When Kim came to WBF she was a young mother with three children and working as a bartender. She was determined to give her children the best life possible. Through her research, Kim found Women Building Futures’ Journeywoman Start program. “The four months of school was the most intense, motivating, and best time of my life. I learned so much about myself and what I can accomplish” Kim shares. “WBF has given me the tools and the skills I need to be a confident and proud tradesperson. I feel very proud of myself to have come so far in a short amount of time. WBF changed my life for the better, and it will change the futures of other women as well. I am also proud to be a mentor to many other women coming into the trades.”

Jackie Cassidy

When Jackie moved to Edmonton, she was working as a physical care aid for people with disabilities, but was struggling to make ends meet. Jackie tried working in administration at an office, but it wasn’t really for her. She’d always liked to roll up her sleeves, get her hands dirty and see the results of her labours. The radio advertisement for Women Building Futures piqued Jackie’s interest. She came to an information session with an idea of going into heavy equipment operation but was drawn to welding. Jackie graduated from the Journeywoman Start program and was indentured as an apprentice shortly after. Five years later, Jackie completed her apprenticeship and is now a certified Journeyman welder making more than three times her wage as a physical care aid. Jackie has also inspired her two daughters; one is indentured as an autobody painter and her other daughter is thinking about becoming a mechanic.

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Star always knew she wanted to be in the trades; she loves the physical work and the feeling of accomplishment. She had heard about Women Building Futures (WBF) on the radio, but it was her sister who attended an information session and then pushed her to apply. What really grabbed her attention about the WBF Journeywoman Start program were the two weeks of safety tickets and the one-week workshops of the seven most common trades. This allowed Star to get the hands-on experience that she was looking for. Star took a practical approach to the trade that she chose. As she says, “I thought about my circumstances and living situation and picked the most appropriate trade accordingly, which was plumbing, for reasons such as: there is always work, it’s one of the higher paying trades, it’s in town and the hours work with my lifestyle.”

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Angela had worked most of her career in retail and banking before she drove to Edmonton from Moncton, New Brunswick with hopes of securing work as a laborer. Instead she found the Women Building Futures Heavy Equipment Operator Program. When asked why she applied to the program, Angela replied, “I like getting dirty and I’ve always been fascinated with big machinery and equipment,” she says. “I just never had an opportunity to get on one and operate one until now.” Angela highly recommends WBF and says it provides a wonderful opportunity for women to get their feet wet and decide what area of construction is right for them. As Angela said, “The program gives you a taste of different equipment so you can see what you like better. For myself, I was not interested in the excavator at all. But when I got on it, within two minutes, I loved it! It became a part of me.” Now Angela’s goal is to have a lifelong career in construction. Her current job is her first construction job and she is also the first female operator her company has hired.


As a young girl, April imagined herself driving a big truck when she grew up. Her opportunity to make it a reality came when she decided to take the WBF Professional Class 1 Driver Program. Now she’s behind the wheel moving all kinds of freight around the city. Her new career has allowed her to meet great people and be a part of a team. “I’ve gone from dreaming about being a truck driver to manoeuvring a big truck around the city, transporting all kinds of freight. Plus, I get to be home every night and off on weekends. Keep going towards your goals and your dreams. Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you can’t do it.”

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Amber tried a desk job but knew she wanted a career that would allow her to work with her hands and build things. Her desire to constantly learn new skills and enjoy the smell of the wood in a workshop compelled her to participate in a WBF Journeywoman Start program. After four years of hard work, she became a journeyman electrician and got her Blue Seal for business competency; and she wanted to keep on learning. Now she’s an apprentice welder and planning to become dual-ticketed. “This path isn’t for everyone. There were days I wanted to quit because it was so hard. But I’ve also had days when I’d never felt prouder of myself. I love looking at a finished product and thinking ‘I built that!’ I have the confidence now to do some of the basic tasks that girls just aren’t taught to do. There are so many amazing things about working in a trades job.”

Cara Wilson

Cara is a mother to three beautiful girls. Before her program at WBF, she worked for a charter bus company. Despite working hard in her role, Cara was not getting ahead and it was taking a toll on her both mentally and physically. During a visit to Alberta Works to explore her options, she was directed to WBF to attend an information session. Shortly after, Cara applied to a WBF program, met the qualifications, and successfully completed her training. Cara started her journey in ironworking and has recently transitioned her skills to sheet metal. She attributes her success to having a great work ethic, a positive attitude, and being a proud member of a team. The proudest moment for Cara has been seeing her confidence transfer to her three girls. They’re so proud of their mom.


Gerda was born and raised in Venezuela, and in 2006 she moved to Alberta with her husband and children looking for a better future. After her kids grew up, she began to look for a job. Back in Venezuela, she was trained as a mechanical engineer. The job hunt wasn't easy as she had been out of the workforce for over 10 years. Gerda found and began training with Women Building Futures in fall of 2017. “In those weeks, thanks to my instructors and classmates from WBF my confidence went up, I learned so much” says Gerda. “I appreciate the support of WBF and their sponsors and partners for the opportunity I got, and for the many women who can realize their dreams, support their families, and enjoy their new lives.”


Karen was working as a high-level administrator but felt stifled by the environment and lack of advancement opportunities. She was bored behind a desk and knew she had more to offer. She heard about Women Building Futures through a fried and after years of deliberation decided to give it a shot. Karen was accepted into the Journeywoman Start program and thrived in the trade’s environment. “I didn’t know I could do half of the things I did, but my instructors and classmates helped me succeed” She attributes most of her success throughout the program to her fellow JWS students and the necessary supports at WBF. “I couldn’t have done it without all of the people around be for those 17 weeks and beyond” and says it’s not just about going to school “it’s about building bonds that will last a lifetime”.


Tatyana was looking for a change in her life and knew there was a better way to support her daughters. After considering Journeywoman start for a few months she was encouraged by friends and family to apply. “I was nervous to try something completely different, but I can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t” The best part of the program for her was the hands-on experience. “It was crazy to be able to make something with my bare hands.” Tatayana is now entering her apprentice for pipefitting, and is looking forward to what the future holds for her and her daughters. “I am so grateful for the opportunity given to me by WBF and all of their supporters, I am a new person and can give a new life to my family thanks to the program.“


Christine’s mother was a truck driver, so she’s no stranger to women in non-traditional jobs. When she began the Journeywoman Start program, it was with the full support of her parents. Over the course of the program, she felt encouraged and pushed to do better at every turn. “WBF really made me understand and prepared me for a workplace in an industrial setting,” Christine said. As a millwright, she has “great opportunities to further develop [her] career.” She goes back to school for her second-year apprenticeship training in six months. Right now she’s just enjoying the fruits of her labour, some work-life balance and a new lifestyle. “I’m looking for a new place to live and I don’t have to settle on bad neighbourhoods because money isn’t an issue,” she said. Christine feels that her story of going from a string of unfulfilling jobs to a long-term, steady career with great pay could inspire others.”


Stefanee was working as a camp attendant in Fort MacMurray and enjoyed the camp life but felt the need for a shift. She reached out to Alberta Works to explore her options and was eventually referred to Women Building Futures. She began the Journeywoman Start program and instantly fell in love with the shops. “The hands-on learning is amazing, every single day we learn something new, and you can’t believe how it applies to real life.” She can’t wait to start fixing things around the house for her family and knows that the program “won’t just help me get a job, it will also help in my life.” Stefanee isn’t sure what trade she will pursue yet, she enjoys the challenge of welding but is keeping her options open. “I have the basic knowledge in six different trades, which is pretty incredible. At the end of the day I will go where my passion, and the jobs takes me.” Going through the program Stefanee is blown away by the comradery between her and her fellow Journeywoman Start classmates. “By the time we had been in class for a week it felt like we were friends for an entire lifetime, I am lucky to have the support of these women and WBF as I embark on my career.”


When Carrie thinks back to her life before WBF, she remembers it as a time when she needed a change. Her world had been turned upside down and life had given her lemons. During her time at WBF, she found the space she needed to build herself up and get the tools to succeed in her new career.

“I’m loving my career choice. As an electrician, I get to work with my hands, think, plan, and be creative and constructive. I love every minute of it. My proudest moment is when I complete a task and see how it started out being a few pieces of conduit pipe and wire, and it’s now something that turns on and off and gives light to current and future students and teachers in the school; it’s a product to be proud of.”