Student Success: Heather and Casara, Building Futures Together
- Published On
- February 8, 2024
When mother-daughter duo Heather and Casara joined our Journey to Trades program, they were both on a quest to sharpen the skills that would help jumpstart their dream careers.
Both came into the program with a wealth of experience from different fields, ranging from the food industry to camp work, healthcare and construction, and were looking for an opening that would lead to a career they felt deeply passionate about.
Pushing past early barriers
Both Heather and Casara hold a close personal connection with the skilled trades. Heather grew to love the trades, taking after her father, who was a master plumber and civil engineer. Meanwhile, her mother came from a line of miners and contractors.
“My father dragged me everywhere to help him with his work,” Heather recalls fondly. She fell in love with the world of skilled trades and enjoys manual work and working with her hands. It was a career path she wanted to pursue, yet for women to work in the trades all those years ago was virtually unheard of.
This was a barrier she experienced firsthand when, over 30 years ago, Heather first worked for a construction company. She was the only woman on site and was not very welcome.
“I was there taking a man’s job. Back in those days, it was unheard of. And so, I ended up being (let go). The boss had to let me go because the guys said I was a distraction,” Heather says.
Since leaving that job, Heather did not have the opportunity to work in construction again – until now. She held onto her love for the skilled trades and dreamt of one day returning to work with the skills, confidence and support to succeed.
More than 30 years later, the opportunity finally came.
“Here, I have the opportunity to (pursue the career) where my heart really lies,” beams Heather.
Finding a career path
Like her mother Heather, Casara developed a love for working with her hands and an interest in the trades. When her mother brought home Women Building Futures flyers from a local job fair, she realized it was a perfect opportunity to explore a career in the skilled trades.
“I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, between trying different jobs,” shares Casara, who worked in healthcare before joining the program.
“When we started here, I was excited to finish the program. This course is such an empowering feeling. It’s such a beautiful feeling on the inside to feel that type of passion for a career path that you want to go and—I’m going to say, have. I’m so proud to be able to say to somebody who asks me what I do for a living, being able to say I’m a career woman.”
Heather and Casara graduated from the Journey to Trades program on Feb. 7, along with 14 other students. Throughout their 17-week journey, the mother-daughter duo ensured they had each other’s backs. They studied together most of the time, quizzed each other and helped each other throughout their learning journey. To help with their study load, Casara made cue cards for her mother.
“She always kept me on my toes. She made sure I understood things I didn’t and vice versa. We just helped each other out and made sure we went through this program successfully,” says Heather.
As they leave the program, Heather and Casara say they are more confident in their skills and future.
“I never thought I would have the opportunity to be in a trade. I figured between my age and myself, it was too late. But here I am. I have a plethora of avenues, so it’s a beautiful feeling. You get a lot of independence in that,” says Casara.
Casara hopes to venture into construction and looks forward to building houses for others and even her own one day. After a more than 30-year hiatus, Heather is excited to returning to construction work or making a career around safety. Both are applying for apprenticeships with construction companies.
“I feel empowered – that nothing can stop me but myself right now. And that’s what this course gives you. I am glad that I joined this program. I have zero regrets,” shares Heather.
Journey to Trades is an introductory construction trades program that prepares you with the basic hands-on skills, safety certifications and experience to begin a career in the construction trades. The program runs for 12 to 17 weeks and is offered in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie. Applications are now open for upcoming classes in Edmonton and Calgary.
(In photo: L-R, Casara with her mother Heather.)