Unfortunately, stigmas steered her in another direction for years — until she saw an advertisement for a welding program at Red River College that lit a spark inside her.
“I started reading more about the program and couldn’t get over how perfect it sounded for me,” says Moneas. “Growing up, you quickly learn there’s a stigma around women working in trades. I didn’t want to let that stereotype hold me back anymore.”
Moneas is now a student in the College’s Welding Pre-Apprenticeship program, a pre-employment certificate offering that guides participants to an apprenticeship track where they can begin working towards Red Seal certification.
“The program is open to people with little to no trades experience who want to enter the field,” says Aaron Brown, liaison and advisor to the program. “We provide students with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful as an entry-level welder”.
The program runs for a total of 33 weeks, during which students earn credit for their Level 1 technical training. It also includes an eight-week paid work placement where students can prove themselves on the job to potential employers.
Tuition, books, tools and personal protective equipment are also completely covered at no cost to students. Delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, the program is fully funded by the Government of Canada Skilled Trades Awareness Readiness (STAR) program.
“There are lots of opportunities to enter the trades industry, especially in Manitoba. With the help of this funding, we’re able to remove barriers for people wishing to become welders,” says Brown.
The tuition-free program is all about access to learning and aims to attract under-represented populations to the trades, including women, Indigenous persons, newcomers and people with disabilities. The current cohort of students in the program is mostly women, and Moneas is proud to be included in the lineup.
“I’m a young Indigenous woman who’s five feet tall – when you look at me, you don’t think ‘welder,’” she says. “But I have a passion for welding and the creativity it brings out in me. I’m also a painter and, to me, welding is another way I create art.”
The program provides students with hands-on welding training, reinforced through lab learning and theory in blueprint reading, technical mathematics, computer applications and other ancillary skills. It also removes barriers to education.
“Our students share how they’ve been wanting to pursue training or enter a trade for years, but haven’t had the resources or supports to make that happen. We want everyone to be educated to the best of their abilities and realize their full potential,” says Brown. “This program can be life-changing.”
Moneas couldn’t agree more.
“Welding has and will continue to change my life,” she says. “Once I complete this program, there are so many possibilities for my future. I’m going to be able to explore welding in all aspects and live the life I’ve always wanted to.”
Learn more about RRC’s Welding Pre-Apprenticeship program at an online information session taking place Thursday, March 18, at 6 p.m.