For twenty-one year old Kelly-Sun, the skilled trades are in her DNA. Her grandfather, brothers and uncle are pipefitters and welders. Her dad is a licensed Pipefitter and Plumber. Kelly-Sun has been passionate about the skilled trades for as long as she can remember. Whenever she had a day off school, she couldn’t wait to go to work with her dad. She fondly looks back on family birthdays and gatherings when the conversation inevitably turned to the workday.
“My father and family are so proud of what they do. It’s who they are,” says Kelly-Sun. “As kids we’d be around them, always listening, and it was really fun because you could hear how proud they were of what they did. I wanted that too.”
Kelly-Sun grew up in the small town of L'Épiphanie, Quebec, graduated from high school at 17, and followed in the family footsteps, joining the United Association Local 71, as a plumbing apprentice. She’s now in the second level of a five-year apprenticeship program at Algonquin College, with plans to be a jack of all trades, and licensed in plumbing, pipefitting and welding.
Although Kelly-Sun is an apprentice Plumber, through her union local, she works primarily as a pipefitter in Ottawa, building heating and cooling systems in industrial buildings. Like her father, she’s proud of what she does.
“The skill you acquire over the years is unbelievable. I like math, and use a lot of math every day,” says Kelly-Sun. “For me, it’s very rewarding. You get to see what you’ve built and it works.”
When Kelly-Sun meets people for the first time, and they ask what she does, the reaction is usually the same. “Wow, you don’t look like you work in construction.” She says there’s an assumption that, “you should be 6 foot 4 and look like a man.” That’s a perception Kelly-Sun is working to change. She strongly encourages women to learn more about the skilled trades, and give it a try.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like, how old you are, or what trade you’re in. It’s a great career for women.”
|Congratulations to Kelly-Sun on passing her Red Seal exam in March 2018!|
|Kelly-Sun is a representative of J♀urneyman, a national program that promotes, supports and mentors women in the unionized skilled construction trades. Read more about the J♀urneyman program.|