Thompson Rivers University is creating a new resource centre to support women pursuing trades training programs thanks to a donation from New Gold Inc.
On Thursday, TRU announced they received $150,000 from New Gold — operator of the New Afton mine near Kamloops — to renovate an area inside the Trades and Technology building that will house the new space.
The company endowed $50,000 for a new bursary that will be awarded annually to women in electrical, welding, heavy mechanical and millwright foundation programs.
Heather Hamilton, TRU’s associate director for community education and workforce training at the school of trades and technology, said the school has been offering women in trades training programs in partnership with the Industry Training Authority and RBC since 2009.
She said the future education centre will help women studying trades connect, as often, there is only one woman in a trades class.
“Over the past 11 years, TRU has seen hundreds of women start their careers in construction and mechanical trades here. Their stories are poignant and inspirational,” Hamilton said.
“Trades have enabled women to make a living wage that empowers them to support or contribute financially to their families their well being.”
Lisa Newman, automation technician for New Afton, said only about five per cent of skilled tradesworkers in B.C. are women — a number that has grown over the years, albeit slowly.
“We've seen a lot of challenges over the years, and it's evident in that 5 per cent of the BC workers being females. So with this financial backing from New Gold, we're going to break down one of those challenges,” Newman said.
“That’s having the resource space to have the network of the other women. And we'll have this space where we can reach out to mentors, have that common ground, know that someone's got our back, and we can do this.”
According to TRU, the new space — to be named the New Gold Women in Trades and Technology Resource Centre —will be a hub for women studying trades and staff.
The space will be both a communal gathering place and a flexible teaching space with upgraded technology.
The university said it will have a private meeting room, an office for the WITT program coordinator, and safe and secure access for students.
John Ritter, the general manger for New Gold’s New Afton Mine, said he looks forward to seeing more women explore a future career in trades at TRU.
“This investment will support our women in trades, remove barriers, improve your experience at TRU and help foster up and coming women considering a career in this great field,” Ritter said.
Baldev Pooni, the dean of trades and technology at TRU, said New Gold’s funding will help provide an environment in which women can hone their passion for the trades and find meaningful careers.
“When people have these kinds of opportunities to network with people from industry, you start to have the environment in which people start to become successful,” Pooni said.
The centre will be open once renovations are completed in 2022.
According to the university, the New Gold Women in Trades bursary will be awarded for the first time this coming spring.