CWA Foundation Removes Barriers One Weld at a Time

CWA Foundation funds a Mind over Metal camp at the BC Provincial School for the Deaf

CWA Foundation Removes Barriers One Weld at a Time

Welding is a profession that relies a lot on sound, but for seven students at the British Columbia Provincial School for the Deaf, all they needed was a chance to be creative and an opportunity to strike an arc to showcase their abilities.

The CWA Foundation funded a Mind over Metal welding camp that was hosted at the Ironworkers Local 97 facility in Burnaby, BC, in conjunction with the Industry Training Authority British Columbia (ITA) and the BC Provincial School for the Deaf.

“The students at the BC Provincial School for the Deaf are often overlooked when it comes to opportunities in the trades and we want them to experience welding from a hands-on perspective,” said Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the CWA Foundation. “The support from industry, parents, ITA and Ironworkers Local 97 for allowing us to use their facilities is quite remarkable. This is one of many outreach projects throughout the country the CWA Foundation has planned for this year, but it is probably the most unique in terms of the demographic. We are very proud to be offering this camp to these students.”

One of the students who attended the camp was 18-year-old Steven Martin, a recent grad of the BC Provincial School for the Deaf.

“It was a great experience. I enjoy working with my hands and seeing projects from start to finish,” he said through an interpreter. “I like working on large projects, trying to figure them out and then trying to weld them properly is challenging, but fun. You really have to think about so many different pieces of the puzzle.”

Zak Wood, 19, another recent graduate from the BC Provincial School for the Deaf, said his time at the camp was great because he learned a lot from the instructors and the hands-on experience opened up his creative side.

“The projects were a lot of fun. The instructors told us to have fun and be creative, so I went into the booth and started welding. I really enjoyed the freedom of welding. It’s you and the project. It’s fun.”

Derek Dinzey Apprenticeship Coordinator for Ironworkers Local 97 said giving the opportunity to students who wouldn’t usually be able to try welding is a great honour.

“When we were approached by the CWA Foundation, we thought what an excellent opportunity to introduce young people to the trades. Welding is a skill used in every major project in British Columbia. The Ironworkers could not be happier to be a part of this. Ironworkers Local 97 sees this as a potential steppingstone to apprenticeships in trades. Working in the trades is not a job, it’s a career and a very rewarding profession,” said Dinzey.

Gary Herman, CEO, ITA BC, said working with all stakeholders with regards to the Mind over Metal camp was very rewarding. “We are excited to be a part of this innovative youth outreach initiative with the CWA Foundation, Ironworkers Local 97and the BC School for the Deaf,” said Herman. “BC’s youth have so much potential and are integral in keeping BC’s economy growing strong. Camps like this are a great way to reach youth earlier and get them inspired and thinking about careers in trades.”

Sixteen year veteran welder Nici Baird, who is currently an Education Assistant with the BC Provincial School for the Deaf, volunteered at the camp said it opened up the students eyes to the many possibilities in the profession.

“I think the work everyone has done to bring this camp here and to include students from the BC Provincial School for the Deaf is wonderful,” she said. “It opened up doors for these students that they never knew existed, and it highlighted that welding is a great career option. All of the students had a great time.”