COURTENAY – North Island College second-year Carpentry Apprenticeship student Theresa Clement’s dream of becoming a carpenter is being made possible, thanks to the support of a generous community.
Clement discovered carpentry while working as a labourer at the North Island Hospitals Project. One of the carpenters on site worked with Clement and got her interested in the trade.
“Once I knew what I wanted to do, I researched all the trades schools on Vancouver Island,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised to find out that NIC was home to the best trades programs and facilities – I applied the next day.”
Clement says the experience at NIC has been wonderful.
“I was nervous going in, especially when I realized I was the only girl in the class, but I was treated as an equal right away,” she said. “All the instructors have been super helpful and I don’t feel they look at me as any different as any other student.”
After completing her foundation program, Clement got a job at Dent Island Lodge.
Being in a male-dominated profession did push her to learn as much as she could.
“I told myself that I needed to be as well-rounded as possible because I never wanted to find myself in a situation where I wasn’t knowledgeable enough,” she said.
Clement is planning to return to Dent Island after her second year is complete, but isn’t sure what the future will hold after that. “In second year we learn a lot about commercial building, so I’d like to try that for a few years,” she said. “I also love doing renovations, especially on older homes. They have great structure, but it also takes a lot of problem solving to transform them. I like that challenge.”
The support she’s received from her instructors, co-workers and the broader community has been overwhelming. In early 2018, she was the recipient of the first-ever Inspired Women’s Award from Black Press. She also received awards from the Courtenay Rotary Club and the NIC Foundation.
“It’s amazing to know there are people out there rooting for you to succeed,” said Clement.
It has also inspired her to give back and she hopes to inspire other women to look at the trades as a career option.
“I feel like there are a lot of girls out there who might be interested, or who may not know it’s something they’d like because they never thought about it,” she said. “It’s a great job, well-paying and the skills you learn are skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.”