“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard as a woman in the trades, but that pushed me to prove my worth!” says Edith Ferrier, one of UA Canada’s first female Plumbers. A 25-year member of UA Local 46 in Scarborough, Ontario, Edith now works as an inspector at the Ontario College of Trades. She says she couldn’t be happier today, but the journey hasn’t been without challenges. Here’s her story:
“In high school I struggled to sit tight for hours on end due to attention deficit disorder, so I focused my energy on hands-on learning. My father had been a member of UA Local 46 as a steamfitter for over 20 years, so I knew all about UA Canada,” explains Edith.
In 1988, she visited UA Local 46 to apply for a Steamfitter-Pipefitter apprenticeship but was turned away because she wasn’t a high school graduate. That same year she enrolled in a series of courses including a Welding and Steamfitting courses at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. “I pulled up my socks and went back to the union hall to re-apply for an apprenticeship and this time I was successful,” she says. “Nearly 30 years ago it was rare to see women in the trades, but I didn’t care. I was one of UA Canada’s first female Plumbers, and I felt so proud!” she says.
“Early on I felt I had something to prove to my peers as the job site rookie,” Edith admitted. “I got over that quickly and accepted any opportunity to show off my skills.” Then one day Edith got injured on the job. “I was devastated, but I told myself ‘you can’t keep a good woman down…it’s time to roll with the punches!’ So I did,” she says. Edith took a series of workplace safety courses, and in 2008 she landed a supervisor position at an Ontario nuclear power plant.
In 2013, with more than 20 years of experience, Edith became an enforcement officer with the Ontario College of Trades. “I couldn’t be happier. I’ve worked hard to get here, and I love what I do every day,” she says. “Enforcing compulsory trades on job sites is one of my passions. I really couldn’t ask for a better job.”
Learn more about joining UA Canada. Visit joinuacanada.ca.
Photo: Edith Ferrier graduated and became an officer of the Ontario College of Trades.