IBEW LU 993 was nominated and won the BC Breaking Barrier award. This award is provided to an outstanding organization or individual for their work in tackling systemic or institutional racism and reducing barriers for communities that experience marginalization. Speaking on behalf of IBEW 993 Business Manager Glen Hilton said the IBEW LU 993 team and membership are honored to receive this award. Thank you to our nominator Corry Anderson-Fennell from the BC Building Trades and our reference for nomination Brynn Bourke from the BC Building Trades.
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IBEW LU 993 was nominated because IBEW Local 993 has been working hard to address the historic inequities endured by women and Indigenous Peoples in the skilled construction trades, and is seeing sustained and meaningful results.
With 23 percent women apprentices, this local construction union sponsors more women than any other group or organization in its category (100 apprentices or more) in B.C. It’s also the third-largest sponsor of Indigenous apprentices in the province, at 18 percent. (Source: Industry Training Authority, Quarterly Performance Report ending Dec. 31, 2020).
Putting these figures in context demonstrates IBEW 993’s remarkable achievements: Overall, women represent just five percent of skilled construction workers, while only about six percent of British Columbians identify as Indigenous.
IBEW 993’s success is not an accident but the direct result of an organizational focus within its vast jurisdiction of rural and northern B.C. to remove the barriers that have prevented underrepresented groups from leveraging rewarding, family-supporting careers in the trades for literally decades.
Specifically, IBEW 993 works with Aboriginal Women in Trades Training (AWITT) and Women in Trades Training (WITT) programs as well as women in trades groups at colleges and universities.
The union also participates in its provincial council’s own Workplace Alternative Trades Training (WATT) program aimed at increasing accessibility to the electrical trade for youth, women, Indigenous Peoples, and newcomers to Canada. A partnership with the Construction Foundation of BC and funded by the Government of Canada’s Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program, WATT participants are given a suite of training and supports, including certification in fall protection and mobile elevated work platforms. In addition, WATT removes financial barriers by providing basic tools, steel-toed boots, and living and transportation expenses.
In 2018, IBEW Local 993 signed a partnership agreement with the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association to help connect industries with Indigenous culture and employment opportunities. As well, IBEW Local 993 regularly participates in First Nations job and career fairs.
In the community, IBEW 993’s women’s committee is assisting with electrical upgrades to the Kamloops Women’s Shelter, mentoring students in the WIT program to assist with the technical work. Committee members also involve themselves in various women’s advocacy programs.
IBEW 993’s two women officers – Red Seal electricians Mollie Routledge and Angeline Camille – are largely behind 993’s success. The two have a combined 47 years of experience in their trade; both have encountered sexism in all its forms, while Camille, a member of the Shuswap First Nation, has also experienced racism throughout her career. Responsible for membership development, outreach, and engagement, they mentor new members and in so doing bust the stereotype of the white, male construction worker early. Camille often shares with prospective and new members personal stories of the racism and harassment she has endured – and how she overcame it – to inspire their perseverance.
Routledge and Camille are also directors of the women’s committee for the 40,000-strong BC Building Trades, voicing the combined interests of some 2,000 member tradeswomen across this province.