A slight fear of heights made ironworking an unlikely career option for Jobriath Berbour. “I hadn't had a lot of experience with heights, so I was a little shaky,” he says. But the young Cree from Winnipeg wasn’t going to let that stop him from following his dreams of becoming an Ironworker.
Jobriath now lives in West Vancouver, where he is learning the trade under fellow Aboriginal Ironworker Danny Mellish. “When I started, I didn't know anything about it,” he says, “but Danny kind of took me under his wing.” He adds that he likes seeing how proud Danny is of being a part of the trade.
Most Aboriginal ironworkers have this sense of pride in their accomplishments, but Jobriath says it’s the history he’s most proud of. “It’s the fact that we’re Native and brothers working together ... breaking down the stereotype that we aren't hard workers,” he says. “It's nice to know that people recognize us for doing something great and challenging. Not everybody can do this, right?”
Jobriath loves the variety of each job. “It’s always something different,” he says. While on some projects he’ll be working on a building and putting up steel, on others he’ll be lifting or hoisting using cranes. “I’m everywhere. I guess you could call me a jack of all trades. They just put me where they need me,” he explains.
Although Jobriath went to college and says he enjoys studying and reading, he can’t see himself in a desk job. “I just can't be sitting around all day. I enjoy working with my hands and just being out there,” he says.
Pushing forward to achieve his goals, Jobriath, like other Aboriginal ironworkers, hopes to see more young people consider the trade. While he admits it can be a demanding job, he says it’s the rewards you get from overcoming challenges that make it worthwhile. “The more you push, the more you'll find that you’re not going to be discouraged. You can break through those barriers and you’re going to feel better about yourself.”