About Build Together: Women of the Alberta Building Trades

In Canada, women represent only 4% of the construction trade workforce. In other skilled trades, that number is even smaller. In Alberta, women currently make up almost 8% of the members of BTA’s affiliated trade unions. That speaks to the success of BTA’s ongoing efforts to bring women into the building trades.

Become an Apprentice: Build Together Local 488
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Build Together Fundraiser

Get your Hillberg & Berk Special Edition hardhat charm, Build Together bracelet and earrings for that special someone in your life! All proceeds are donated to various local charities and organizations in Alberta.

For more information, please contact:

Your Local Build Together Rep
Email: buildtogether@bta.ca

Jacquie Tackaberry
Email: jtackaberry@bta.ca
Phone: (780) 421-9400

Build Together Alberta – Committee Members

Angela Allen Build Together

Angela Allen, Red Seal Concrete Finisher

What made you interested in a career in the trades?

I got into the trades while I was working as a bartender. I had been putting away an order one day, and a customer who was in concrete noticed how strong I was while I was putting multiple cases of beer away at a time. He mentioned something about my work ethic, and said I should get into concrete. He thought I could do it, and told me I would make really good money. I was looking to do something different with my life, so I began to think seriously about making the change. At the time I was also working at an Italian social club, and had been chatting with a customer there about wanting to get into concrete. Little did I know he was a Foreman at a big concrete company. When he offered me a job, and told me what I was going to be making as a Labourer, I was so excited. This man has now been my Foreman for a good portion of 15 years.

What impact has Build Together had on your career?

Build Together has definitely made an impact on my career. Through the committee I have gained a confidence in myself that I did not have before. My new confidence came from having the support of so many strong women who have been in similar situations to mine. I have watched these women grow to be strong leaders, and they have encouraged me to do the same. I have learnt about conflict resolution, and how to ask for what I want. Programs like Build Together are so important because we work together to raise each other up, and help each other realize our potential. As a committee, we also share our knowledge and experiences within our communities and with people who may not know they would ever be able to succeed in a career in the trades. We share information with people who may have had bias towards the trades and the women working in those trades.

I just recently acquired my NCSO certification (National Construction Safety Officer), and Build Together has helped me gain the courage and confidence I needed to take that step!

What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?

The advice I would give to any woman who is interested in starting a career in the trades, or pursuing a leadership role in the construction industry would be to just go for it! Taking the steps towards something new can be scary, but the feeling of accomplishment when you build something, or complete a job with your hands is so fulfilling.

What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?

To me, the future success of Build Together looks like us tackling, and raising awareness regarding important issues that face not only women but also many people following a career in the trades such as affordable childcare with extended hours. As a committee I believe we should continue to spread information about the benefits of having a career in the trades. I would like for us to start a mentorship program for people who have just entered the trades so they can obtain the support they need. Community outreach, and giving back through fundraising events is an area I would like to see become a larger focus for our group.

Siobhan Mangal 2

Siobhan Mangal, OPCMIA Local 222

What made you interested in a career in the trades?

Money, Ability to learn new skills, Growth and Potential, Hands on, Variety of options.

I’ve always been interested in the trades. While in High school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life but College or University was not the priority. If I’m not 100% confident with my program choice then I don’t want to go into debt for it. An alternative program at my high school was the Registered Apprenticeship Program (R.A.P). I went through the program and figured out a few trades I thought I’d like. Went to an interview and was called back to work for them. But I chickened out and never returned the call. The program was great for getting you ready for the job; they prepare you with all the proper paperwork and tickets needed to be on construction sites, set up the interviews and helped me brush up on some skills. But I feel like it lacked a follow up or mentor to assist with the follow through. However that is on me, like the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink.

After job hopping between bartending, serving, customer service, and auto body prep for a few years, I was given the opportunity to work as a fireproofer for Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association (O.P.C.M.I.A) Local 222. I was interested in the pay it was providing, the new skills I was going to be trained in, and importantly the feeling that I was working towards something. I liked the hands on learning and mentorship you get while in the trades. The options once you get your foot in the door are endless and I like the variety of different projects you work through.

What impact has Build Together had on your career?

Educating me on how we can do better in all aspects of the trades (mentorship, childcare, inclusiveness, community & giving back, leadership skills)

Build Together has had a huge impact on me personally, which in effect has impacted my career. Build Together Alberta has invited me into conferences, meetings, questions and answers with apprentices and ministers of the government, events of inclusiveness and community in the trades. Through these encounters I’ve learned about some of the problems and been a part of some of the solutions that people in the trades life are facing, problems ranging from apprentices needing an easier and more accessible way to upgrade their blue books and the lack of available child care for families to higher suicide rates in the trades and isssues around mentorship or retention in the trades. Racism. Problems that I see and want to be a part of the solution. Build Together prepares and assists you to help with the solution. Programs like Build Together prepare women to step up into the roles they did not know they were capable of. Similar to being on site and working on a project, Build Together puts you into the problem and assists you with figuring out the solution. We meet other strong leaders in the industry and we all mentor each other with our experience and expertise. Build Together has made me feel like a leader within myself and has assisted me to become stronger at standing up for the things I believe in – as well as to educate others when needed.

What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?

Try it out. It’s going to be nerve wrenching and intimidating at some points but take it day by day. Be willing to learn and adapt. Show up everyday with a good attitude, work ethic and strong head on your shoulders and you’ll be fine. Stick to your gut. Don’t let yourself be pushed around and if you don’t like something being done, then say it.

What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?

I believe Build Together is successful. They’ve been successfully bringing women into the trades who are actively trying to make a difference in the trades environment. Women are becoming a highlight in the trades industry demonstrating the things we can do and accomplish.

Kimberly McLean

Kimberly McLean, Ironworkers Local 720

What made you interested in a career in the trades?
I love working with my hands, building and creating. I love interacting with different people every day and constantly learning and advancing my skills/career.
What impact has Build Together had on your career?
Build Together gave me a group of amazing women to confide in and gain support from as well as offer my support to.
What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?
Go for it!!! I encourage every woman to go for their dreams. Build Together offers great support for any woman looking for a career in any trade. Stay strong, confident and be supportive of each other!
What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?

In a very male-dominated union/trade, I am the first woman voted into a union representative role (executive board), by my fellow brothers and sisters.

Every time a woman accomplishes her goals, is promoted or advances her career/education, I think that is success for all women in the trades and Build Together. We need to encourage and support each other.

Angelique Lachance2

Angelique Lachance, Ironworker Local 725

What made you interested in a career in the trades?
I’ve always preferred hands-on learning over reading text books, so I decided to explore a career that allowed me to embrace my creative side.
What impact has Build Together had on your career?

Being a member of Build Together has definitely had a positive impact on my career. I am a part of a support system of women who help each other learn and grow.

I take advantage of additional training when it is offered. Ive completed the CWB welding supervisor course, the American OSHA 30, numerous saftey qualification tickets as well as being a yearly attendee of the Trades Women Build Nations Conference.

What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?

When I show up to work, most of the time it doesn’t even feel like “work”, because its truly something I enjoy doing. If you are new to the industry or maybe wanting to peruse a career in the trades, the best advice I can give you is to choose a career that you are passionate about. We all need to work and earn a living and its going to make your life a whole lot better if you enjoy what you are doing.

What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?

Empowerment, encouragement and motivation for people in not one just one industry, but across the building trades. The more we can learn to support each other the stronger we become as a whole.

Every time a woman accomplishes her goals, is promoted or advances her career/education, I think that is success for all women in the trades and Build Together. We need to encourage and support each other.

Jill Timushka

Jill Timushka, Alberta B-pressure Welder

What made you interested in a career in the trades?
I was never afraid of hard work and could always appreciate a job well done.

I had been working in the food and beverage industry for 7-8 years and was looking for a change – a career. Mechanics was an interest of mine, carpentry was too. When I talked to my parents about it, my Mom suggested that I try my hand at welding with my Dad. The following weekend, my Dad and I got to work on the back of his welding rig, and I was hooked. As a fourth generation welder, I’d say it was in my blood. I started my apprenticeship and before I knew it, I was a Journeyman. I pushed on further to get my B-pressure certification soon after.

During my career, I have worked in commercial, industrial, and production facilities. I’ve built many things from garbage containers and trucks, to large pressure vessels. I’ve worked in fabrication shops, water treatment facilities, gas plants, fertilizer plants, from new construction to repairs, replacement, and maintenance. I started my own ornamental ironwork business, which led me to becoming an instructor at the local college to teach it. That experience was helpful when I was offered a position as an instructor at my union hall. From there, I was invited to fill in as a National Manager with my union’s head office, while a colleague went on maternity leave. This goes to show that you never know what doors will open when you join the trades.

What impact has Build Together had on your career?
Build Together is just the place to help Tradeswomen with issues like balancing work and family life. This committee of amazing Tradeswomen work diligently at smoothing the path for future Tradeswomen. When these Tradeswomen get together, it is a firestorm of power, of which I am proud to say I am a part!
What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?

If I had any advice to give women looking for a career, I would say: “Find a trade you love, give it all you’ve got, join your local union, and get on the Build Together committee! You have no idea how proud of yourself you will be!! DO IT!!”

What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?
There have been some challenges along the way. As a single mother working in the trades, I had to become quite inventive when it came to childcare because childcare facility hours did not always match my work schedule. I am quite passionate about correcting this issue for future generations of Tradeswomen so they won’t have to struggle with this, like I did.
Dawn Dwyer

Dawn Dwyer, Local 1325 Carpenters

What made you interested in a career in the trades?
The reason why I decided to take on a career in the building trades was because I was at a time in my life where I no longer wanted the occupation that I had. After discussing this with my father (who is also a local 1325 member) I decided to join the Carpenters Hall. The benefits and pension plan were awesome and as well there was a sense of family and opportunity for individual growth.
What impact has Build Together had on your career?
Build Together has had a huge impact on me and my vision for the future of the Trades. I have only been involved for a short time, but the vision, determination and impact I’ve seen these ladies make in the past few years has been amazing. They have opened a whole new view on minorities in the building trades field. I feel that these programs and opportunities are paramount in moving forward in on our industry.
What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?
These trades can be challenging and somewhat intimidating at times. With that said, unions are a family with great support and training. I have met many sisters over the years who I aspire to be like and who have helped me along the way. Times are not always easy but with much support and hard work you can flourish into someone you never thought possible. The benefits for you and your family are amazing. And with the numerous other programs that branch off from our own locals, success can be had by everyone.
What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?
What success would look like for me with Build Together would be to reach as many people as possible through our own locals, high schools and the community as a whole – which these Ladies have been doing for some time. And making a diverse workplace where all are respected and have opportunity for growth. This group is a community of women who want to impact the future of women and minorities in a way that allows them to reach full personal potential. I see brilliant future for myself and the ladies of Build Together.
Kayla Lamouche

Kayla Lamouche, Millwright Apprentice, Millwrights Local 1460

What made you interested in a career in the trades?

I have always been interested in the trades; my dad was an auto mechanic and worked as a labourer for a couple of years alongside other millwrights and wanted to join the union.

What impact has Build Together had on your career?
I first found out about the Build Together group at the BTA conference in Jasper in 2019 and became interested in what they where doing and wanted to help.
What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?
I would tell them to go for it. Even though it may seem intimidating, it’s worth it.
What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?
I hope to encourage more women and under represented groups and youth to start a trade.
ShauntelleHollett3

Shauntelle Hollett, Industrial Painter, Local 177/District Council 17

What made you interested in a career in the trades?
My family is heavily involved in the industrial painting trade. One summer while attending University my dad suggested coming to work to have some money to put away for school the following year. I agreed and came back every summer until I graduated, at which point, I took a full-time position as an industrial painter.
What impact has Build Together had on your career?
Definitely! Build Together has put me in touch with a lot of inspiring women. Their support and ambition motivate me to be successful in my career and show other women in the trades what they can achieve.
What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?
Connect with others. Be positive and uplifting to all those around you to develop a strong sense of community in the workplace, a community that fosters an environment where people are more likely to grow both personally and professionally.
What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?
I think women have a bright future in the trades. Employers are starting to realize we are detail oriented and highly motivated and it shows in the quality of work we perform.
Do you have any additional accomplishments you would like to highlight?
I am a full status NACE certified coating inspector. I also enjoy instructing during the off season throughout our District Council.
Alanna Marklund1

Alanna Marklund, Red Seal Journeyman Welder, UA Local 488

Why did you take on your new role/position off the tools? What made you interested?
There was no question when the opportunity to become a National Manager for Youth, Diversity and Indigenous Relations with UA Canada came up, I took it. This role is so crucial for the advancement not only of women in the trades but also of anyone of who is a member of a minority population. There is a huge place in this industry for us to hire, train and support a diverse group of people. Everyone brings something new to the industry, and diversity will only make us stronger. The skills shortage is looming, and the only way to get around it is to become more inclusive, and not be afraid to diversify our labour pool.

I was incredibly interested in this role when I realized the opportunity that it can bring to minorities in the trade. Any little step towards making a positive impact in the industry is a step in the right direction.

What impact has Build Together had on your career? Why are programs like Build Together important?
Build Together has made a large impact in both my career and my personal life. It has shown me different sides of the industry, and how a jobsite is just one piece of the puzzle. It made me look at the entire picture, and proved that there is space for women in the construction industry, and that we not only need more women on our jobsites, but we also need women in leadership roles if we really want to make a positive change.

Programs like Build Together create a support team, and give women the opportunity to have their voices heard from a different level within the industry. Build Together has the ability to influence and notify our leadership of some of the common and reoccurring issues that many women face on the jobsite. Without the insight of Build Together, and other women in the industry, a lot of these issues go completely un-noticed, which ultimately leads to the fact that we have such a difficult time retaining women in the workforce. Through Build Together, we are opening new doors and helping to find solutions that can retain the women in our industry who are skilled, have worked hard throughout their career and deserve a place in the industry.

What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?
For any woman who has an opportunity to take on a new role or leadership position within the industry, all I can say is “DO IT!” My grandmother always told me, “you will never know until you try” and to this day I still follow that advice. It has got me where I am today. Without taking the opportunity to try something new, just because I was nervous or afraid, I would have missed out on so much. Worst outcome if you don’t like it is leave; no one is going to make you stay. Try it and decide for yourself, but if you never take that chance, you will never know how great something can be, or how much difference you may be able to make for yourself and others.
What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?
Success to me, would be when one day we don’t have to specify “Women in the Trades” and that we can just be part of the team. I see success when there is equity for everyone within the construction industry, not just women. It should not matter what your gender is, what the colour of your skin is, or what language you speak, but if you are dedicated, hard working, and skilled, there should be a place for you in the construction industry. Success would be seeing those barriers broken and having the right people for the right job, regardless of your gender, race, or culture.
Do you have any additional accomplishments you would like to highlight?
My most proud accomplishment throughout my career was in 2015. I competed in the UA International Apprenticeship Skills Contest. I was the first woman in its 50 year history to make it to the International level. Just to participate was such an honor for me, but I not only participated, I also took home the award for the UA Standard for Excellence which is only given to one competitor each year. I didn’t want to take this award on a personal level, but I feel I was there to represent the women of the trades, the women who work tirelessly every day to prove they have what it takes to make it in this industry. It was just another step on the road to workplace equity.
Roxie Zamora1

Roxie Báez Zamora, Scaffolding/ NCSO, Carpenters Local 2103

What made you interested in a career in the trades?
The physical component as I enjoy hard work. I really appreciate the schedule flexibility you can count on and the constant change of environment.
What impact has Build Together had on your career?
A very positive impact. Having the support of other Sisters makes a big difference; it is comforting to share experiences and learn from other women’s exposure to the trades.
What advice do you have for women interested in starting a career in the trades or pursing a leadership role in the construction industry?
Respect goes a long way. More importantly respect yourself, know your value and be confident in your skill set, stand your ground and know your rights.

Always be prepared.

What does success look like for the future of Build Together and women in the trades?
A better work culture that is more supportive and inclusive that accounts for the importance of mentoring as it promotes solidarity, better support systems and excellence in the skilled trades.

A Responsibility We Take Seriously.

Build Together Alberta isn’t about, “What can industry do for me?”, this Chapter is about what can we do to give back to the industry that made us who we are? Build Together for me, is about building solidarity, building relationships, building each other up, being the voice of the unheard, breaking down barriers, igniting excitement into our youth, and being a powerful political voice. Build Together Alberta is working toward a better future for the next round of Apprentices that will one day fill our boots- a responsibility we take seriously.

Jill Timushka, Plumbers & Pipefitters, UA Local 496

Build Together is not just about women building communities to support their families, it’s also about building a foundation for future women, building a group of strong women who support each other and building an understanding of diversity in the work force. I love Build Together and the sisters it brought me!

Alanna Marklund, Build Together Alberta Recording Secretary, UA Local 488, Plumbers & Pipefitters

Build Together to me, means being a part of something that stands up for equal opportunity for women and under-represented groups in the trades. Being able to prove that there are hard working women in the industry, and break the stereotypes about women working the the trades is crucial if we want to recruit and retain more women in the industry. The construction culture is in need of a change, and it’s inspiring to be a part of it.

Looking Forward

A large population of skilled trade workers are gearing up for retirement. Across North America, roughly 40% of tradespeople will need to be replaced in the next 5-10 years. In Canada, an estimated 255,000 skilled construction workers will need to be recruited from outside the construction industry over the next 10 years to compensate for this gap. That number includes some 40,000 skilled trades workers in Alberta.

Many of these additional workers are projected to come from non-traditional populations: women, new Canadians, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples. The opportunity for women to obtain secure, well-paid middle-class jobs in the skilled trades is enormous.

Build Together Programs

For many years, the BTA and its affiliated unions have been industry leaders in supporting recruitment and retention efforts to increase the number of women in the skilled construction trades. Through the Alberta Council of Turnaround Industry Maintenance Stakeholders (ACTIMs), we offer scholarships specifically for women entering the trades in addition to other scholarships open to female candidates.

We focus not just on attracting women to the skilled trades but also getting industry to look at women as an OPTION. Our work includes career planning, challenging stereotypes, and participating in industry events, from tradeshows and career fairs to school presentations and networking.

Build Together Donation 2020

Build Together Sponsors

Build Together is a national workforce development program initiated by Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU). Build Together now has chapters across the country. Alberta was one of the first Chapters (Build Together – Women of the Alberta Building Trades) and has been operating since 2015, but our efforts to bring women into the building trades date back much further.