Iron maidens

Cristal Bear-Burant cuts through metal using a vice and hack saw at Mind Over Metal camp at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. (Josef Jacobson/Daily Herald)

All-girls’ welding camp wraps up at local Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus

When Tammie Pawlust was growing up, welding wasn’t an option for girls. She said she wasn’t permitted to take industrial shop classes in high school and didn’t break into the trade until she was 35.

Now, as the Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) co-ordinator at Prince Albert’s Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus, she’s giving girls the chance she never had.

This week the Canadian Welding Association Foundation and WITT program partnered to bring the weeklong Mind Over Metal girls’ summer camp to the P.A. campus for the third year. Twenty girls ages 12 to 15 registered for this year’s camp.

“It was a really good group of girls. They were really energetic and eager to learn,” Pawlust said.

Over the course of the week the participants learned about workshop safety and how to use welding equipment, build simple objects like boxes and pencil holders and complete an independent project.

Pawlust, who has been working as a welder for 24 years, said tradespeople are overwhelmingly male. She said the goal of Mind Over Metal is to communicate the message that a career in the trades is an option for women as well.

“A lot of times, (for) women getting into trades, we haven’t been around tools, we haven’t been around the machines so we don’t even know the lingo. We don’t know what the tools are called,” Pawlust said.

“So these classes are all women, taught by women so they’re more free to ask questions and to try stuff out and then they go, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’”

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