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Jun 19 2020

Pre-trades program offers road to economic security and prosperity

Posted by TC Energy


A pandemic didn’t stop this young woman from pursuing her dream

Tiara Goodswimmer graduated from Women Building Futures’ (WBF) Journeywoman Start program at arguably one of the worst times possible this year – in March, just after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared – but bad timing hasn’t stopped her.

Although her graduation and job interviews were cancelled due to social distancing, she still quickly found work on a construction site. Tiara is now looking forward to starting a new job at the end of June as an electrical labourer in Fort Saskatchewan, AB, with plans to go back to school to become a journeywoman electrician.

“I have a lot of little girl cousins and a younger sister who look up to me back home [in Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation],” says Tiara.

“I want to show them that Indigenous women are capable of doing anything we put our minds to. We don’t have to be limited because society makes us believe that we should be.”

Her journey into a career in trades began while working outdoor jobs at different oil fields where she was intrigued by the various tradespeople at work.

I decided that’s what I wanted to do one day. I now see myself working as an electrician until I’m a Red Seal and then eventually also getting into welding. I’d like to run my own welding business with a truck and a cool rig on it. I know women who have that and I want to be like them. I just want to be a tough woman who people can look up to.”

Tiara Goodswimmer
Graduate, Women Building Futures’ (WBF) Journeywoman Start program

A new career path

So when the opportunity came up for her to attend the Journeywoman Start program in Edmonton, AB in November 2019 – a program that TC Energy has supported since 2018 – she jumped at the chance.

The 17-week program run by WBF is a hands-on training program that introduces students to six different trades and provides introductory skills training for welding, carpentry, sheet metal, electrical, plumbing and pipe-fitting/steamfitting.

Jess Thomson, the director of stakeholder engagement at WBF, says that the program is designed to give women the confidence and readiness to enter the construction and maintenance industry.

Our mission is economic prosperity for women and we do that through training for trades, which can be an amazing career and offer a lot of stability. We know that when women have economic prosperity and economic security, it changes their futures and their children’s futures.”

Jess Thomson
Women Building Futures, Director of Stakeholder Engagement

That’s what Tiara is hoping for – security.

“My goal is to create a secure life for myself and support my family in any way that I can,” says Tiara. “I want to help my brother raise his little girl – and having security myself will help her have security – it’s a chain reaction. I don’t want her to struggle the way my siblings and I did growing up.”

Helping build workforce capacity

As part of our commitment to inclusion and diversity, TC Energy has been partnering with WBF since 2016, and in 2018, entered into a two-year partnership to specifically support the Journeywoman Start program. With our dedication to helping support skills development of the local Indigenous workforce through workplace training in the communities where we do business, the WBF partnership was the perfect fit.

“We’re very selective with industry partners and make sure we’re partnering with organizations committed to career progression,” says Jess. “TC Energy’s sponsorship helps students in their transformational journey of learning. It means a woman has the opportunity to change her life, start a rewarding career, meet her financial goals, support her family and more.”

Jess says that these industry partnerships will become even more critical in the future, as COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting women, with many women losing their jobs during the pandemic.

Tiara says her acceptance into the Journeywoman Start program came at a perfect time in her life. Instead of the uncertainty of what to do with her future, the program opened a new world to her.

“It’s been a life-changing experience,” says Tiara. “It was the greatest feeling to receive TC Energy’s financial support – I was stress-free because of the company’s help and I didn’t really have to worry about anything except for doing well at school.”

More information

In 2019 alone, TC Energy donated more than $7 million to over 400 Indigenous partners and students across North America through the TC Energy Scholarship program and the Build Strong community investment program. Visit our Build Strong program webpage for more information.