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2016 John Tackaberry Future Leaders Award Winner

from l to r: Arden Callsen - Local 720, Jacquie Tackaberry - BTA, Kevin Lecht - Local 110, Ian Robb - Local 47, Rob Calver - Local 725

At this year's BTA Conference, the second annual John Tackaberry Future Leaders Award was presented. It is awarded to the apprentice who best typifies the leadership qualities and support for their union Brothers and Sisters that John Tackaberry was known for. Candidates had to write an essay detailing what leadership means to them. This year's winner is an apprentice out of the Ironworkers Local 720 union hall. Here is what he had to say about winning the award:

"It was an incredible honour for me to be recognized in that way. I wish I could have met Mr. Tackaberry personally, but it is my promise to his memory, Mrs. Tackaberry, the BTA, and my Union Hall to continue to engage in every opportunity available to be a positive face for organised building trades and a voice for equal opportunity in the workplace."

To see what Brother Callsen has to say about leadership, read on:

Words on Leadership

Leadership can be described as something you are born with; a natural talent to guide and motivate others. And although there is truth in that saying, I believe the real born talent is listening.

Through birth, we are not granted the knowledge to build buildings, guide expeditions, teach in a classroom, run for parliament, or any other such positions that are so commonly associated with leadership. But the knowledge needed for those tasks is only delivered through communication, and if we were to refer to and compare any great leaders (either historically great or presently) there can always be found an underlying foundation of communicative skills of which a strong trait in “listening” is the pillar.

For me this has been the key to any of my successes, and the cause of my failures.

When I first became interested about a career in the trades, I deliberated for months before pairing my thrill of adventure with Ironworking. I then contacted the hall and spoke with the Apprenticeship Coordinator, Scott Papineau, who over the years became one of my most important influences in leadership today. With him as my coach and mentor I claimed 11th place in the Western Canadian Ironworker Outstanding Apprentice Competition in July of 2016.

But well before I would compete I had years of training and guidance through the trade by great journeymen, my first in particular. He was devoted to the tradition of apprenticeship and taught me the responsibilities as an Ironworker and my role as a union member. Under his guidance I developed a passion for the trade and the commitment to upholding our union halls oath towards a Standards of Excellence and dedication for safety, quality, and productivity in our work.

Fast forwarding through the years; my passion for becoming the best I could be and willingness to learn and be challenged became obvious to people. I would work with great leaders and be tested through many aspects of what make up such a diverse trade. I would also excel in school, both in shop and theory classes, based on the scope of work I had previously been exposed to and the thirst to absorb knowledge which eventually became recognized with honours.

Each year my confidence has grown towards my own craftsmanship, I would gain the trust and encouragement of my brothers/sisters, educators, and employers. My skills and opinions have become valued amongst my peers and I’ve been humbled with opportunities to teach others.

During these times when I am depended on to instruct, I still carry with me the belief that listening is vital to leadership. To maximize the strengths in your partners it is important to listen about what they can offer. And motivate one another to build a bright and safe future in the trade of Ironwork and Alberta as a whole.

As a great Canadian once said;

“Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together.” - Red Green

Yours truly,

Arden Callsen


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2016 BTA Conference Highlights

Re-Defining Our Workplace: The Diversification of Our People, Resources and Economy was this year's theme. Read on for a summary as well as links to presentations.

Big day for Unionized Building Trades in Alberta

Sister j'Amey Holroyd appointed Chair of the Alberta Apprenticeship and Training Board - the first union member in recent history and the first woman ever!

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October 25, 2016
Last month, the BTA hosted our annual conference. This year, the theme was “Re-Defining Our Workplace: The Diversification of our People, Resources and Economy”. We had guests and speakers from across the country come to talk about the importance of ...
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August 29, 2016
Union labour does good work – we all know that. Our members receive world-class training, are committed to the development of their craft and actively work to protect their brothers and sisters, both on and off the worksite. But one thing that often ...
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Did you know that formal first aid training started with unions? Today in 1899 in northeastern Pennsylvania, 25 anthracite miners from the Jermyn Coal Colliery attended the first formal workplace first aid training session. The series of courses were set up by Dr. Matthew Shields, who believed that lives could be saved with quick, efficient medical care provided by coworkers until a doctor arrived. By the end of the training sessions, the miners were ready and able to provide first aid to any coworker in need. (Are you up-to-date with your first-aid training?)
Last month, the BTA hosted our annual conference. This year, the theme was “Re-Defining Our Workplace: The Diversification of our People, Resources and Economy”. We had guests and speakers from across the country come to talk about the importance of diversification and the importance of participating in, or even leading, the diversification of our industry. For all the details, as well as downloadable copies of many of the presentations, visit here ( As our industry grapples with reduced prices for our products and limited availability for work, it is more essential than ever to ensure that we are as nimble and as prepared as possible for whatever the future may hold. That means not just responding to opportunities as they come up, but creating those opportunities and showing everyone how it is done, as demonstrated by our brothers who presented on sustainable and renewable energy initiatives. That means taking the time that the current situation offers to re-evaluate how we are getting the work done, focusing on ways to improve the work we do, whether through additional training or paying closer attention to the mentoring that we provide and that our apprentices should expect. That means examining how we support and lift each other up, whether through increased attention to safety and mental health or by committing to providing respectful workplaces for all current and future brothers and sisters. Information on how your brothers and sisters are taking advantage of the opportunities that come with diversification is found in the conference summary, but that isn’t the only place to look. Look around where you are now, talk to your local, get involved – help lead the way.
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The Building Trades of Alberta is about PEOPLE, PARTNERSHIPS and COMMUNITY. We coordinate and promote the interests of 16 Alberta trade unions whose 75,000 members work in the residential, commercial and industrial construction, maintenance and fabrication industries. We provide solutions to meet the challenges of an ever-changing industry in an energy conscious world.

  • We work on Industrial, commercial, and institutional construction projects – as well as on maintenance projects – throughout Alberta.
  • We partner with contractors and employers to deliver projects on budget and on schedule.
  • We provide the most reliable, productive, and safest building trades workforce available.
  • We believe in investing in our people. We are the largest supporters of apprenticeship and training for building trades workers in the private sector. Our union training facilities and programs set the standard in the construction industry.
  • We believe in investing in Alberta and in our communities. Through the Building Trades of Alberta Charitable Foundation, our members have donated over $6 million to worthwhile charities throughout Alberta.

Who are the Building Trades of Alberta members? We are your friends, your neighbours, and the volunteers that make our Alberta communities better places to live.