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Growing up in North Vancouver, Lori Baker spent her childhood working with tools. “I was always playing with tools, helping my dad with the home renovations. I loved the fact that I was building something.”
Now, at 36, Lori still lives in North Vancouver. And she’s still working in residential construction. “It’s just something that I’ve always liked doing. I’ve tried a lot of things, but I’ve always gone back to construction.”
Lori spent a lot of time figuring out what she wanted to do for a living. In between construction work, she held jobs at a call centre and as a cashier at Walmart, Home Hardware and RONA. But, she says, it didn’t bring the same feeling of accomplishment as working in construction. “I love the hands-on work, the actual physical work.”
After working for many years as a labourer in the residential construction industry, Lori decided to enrol as an apprentice framer. “I’ve done home renovation for I don’t know how long and I’ve taken a building repair course. I knew how to work on homes from the ground up. So I wanted to learn how to actually build the foundation of the homes.”
Working as a framer has also allowed Lori to spend time building her family. “We usually start (work) at 7:30 a.m. and are done by 4:00 p.m.,” she says. For Lori, that means getting home early to be with her daughters.
Coming home to three young girls is quite a shift from the company she keeps on the job. Lori says that there are still more men on construction sites than women. In her experience, most of the men “are welcoming and willing to accept the fact that I’m there.” Especially once they realize what she’s capable of. “Getting the respect of my crew mates has got to be the best feeling anyone can have on a job site.”
Lori is used to working with men in construction – her father, uncle and brothers all work in the residential construction industry. In fact, Lori is the first woman in her family to go into construction. But she hopes not to be the last. Her youngest daughter already shows an interest in tools and carpentry, and helps her mother with repairs around the house any chance she gets.
“I would love it if my girls took up construction work,” Lori says. “I would be very proud of them.”