Students from area schools gathered at Shevchenko School in Vita to learn more about trades.
The Red River Technical Vocational Area (RRTVA), in partnership with Triple R Community Futures, hosted a girls in trades day called "No Limits for Girls in Trades" for approximately fifty Grade 8 girls from three school divisions including Red River Valley, Border Land, and Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine.
Hands on projects included cutting shapes with a plasma cutter, welding, and using a virtual welder.
The goal of the afternoon was to introduce girls to non-traditional career choices.
The keynote speaker was Lucy Fouasse, owner of Lil' Steps Miniatures and Wellness Farm. Fouasse explained what career choices led her down the path of becoming an entrepreneur.
"A big message was to really be able to follow your dreams, and to be able to do that we have to build grit. Grit being passion and perseverance in our long term goals, even with obstacles," she said.
Fouasse worked as a probation officer for 11 years, and admits it was intimidating at first.
"It was definitely male dominated originally when I started, but in the 11 years... it kind of progressed and became probably more female-dominated," she said. "I knew I was tough, I really believed I could do the job and I was fascinated by it... it's all about building relationships and that's kind of what I love to do."
A running theme among the speakers was that your first career choice may lead to other opportunities later in life.
"I combined working with animals and working people, and helping people with mental health difficulties," explained Fouasse.
Other speakers included female representatives from Manitoba Hydro, Red River College, and Penn-Lite Electrical & Mechanical Inc. The women explained how they became interested in their respective jobs, and if they faced challenges working in male-dominated industries.
Zoé Preteau and Janique Lariviere are from l'École communautaire Réal-Bérard, and took part in the afternoon activities. Zoé is interested in criminology, while Janique could see herself as a therapist.
The girls thought about what it would be like to work at a job that was predominantly employed with male workers.
"It's a lot of pressure on you, when you're one of the only females. Really you just have to learn that they've been in your position too," said Zoé.
The "No Limits" event was organized by Shelley Johnston, Community Development Coordinator for Community Features Triple R, and Brenda Giesbrecht, Director of RRTVA.
"I just had an idea that this would be a great thing, for students to be able to see what's available to them," said Johnston. "I think it's important for them to be able to try new things and experience the different options that they have."
Giesbrecht said the speakers and mentors would "allow students to see that there are great possibilities beyond high school in the trades."
"For us it's important for the students to see non-traditional career choices, including many hands-on activities, so they have the opportunity to try welding or carpentry skills in the early years," Giesbrecht added.