Thinking, talking and targeting the trades: Kerrobert school eyes welding bay upgrades

Enbridge and Graham Construction program links front-line construction workers with front-line community services

Shop talk? Paula Ross is hearing a lot of it in recent years.

As principal of Kerrobert Composite School, a K-to-12 facility in west-central Saskatchewan, she estimates that 70 to 80 students from a population base of just over 200 pursue industrial arts, or shop, electives every year.

“Kids are definitely thinking trades. The interest is there, because the market is there,” says Ross. “Between the commercial, industrial and residential sectors, in recent years there’s been a real call for the trades.

“We’ve seen lots of students pursue careers as welders, machinists, electricians, instrumentation techs, heavy equipment mechanics, you name it. There’s a real need in the area, and kids are looking at that market and thinking: ‘That’s an area where I can get a job.’ ”

Paul Bricker, the shop teacher at Kerrobert Composite, offers more than just carpentry in his class. And with a recent $10,000 donation made to the school by employees of Enbridge and Graham Construction, as part of a new workplace safety program entitled Path to Excellence, Bricker is eyeing upgrades to the school’s welding bay.

“Right now we’re talking about acquiring new auto-shade helmets, leathers for the welding students, a new vice, and new dividers for the students to have their own space to weld in,” says Bricker. “I’d also like to invite site professionals to come in and teach students useful welding techniques, and describe the conditions faced by a real on-site welder.

“This will have a real impact on our shop program, and our future employees in the trades.”

The Path to Excellence program is being piloted by Enbridge and Graham Construction as part of this summer’s Secure Energy Connection project at Enbridge’s Kerrobert Terminal.

The program aims to make three community donations totaling $40,000 by the fall, and Enbridge facilities supervisor for Canadian projects Jayson Hlus says the giving is particularly resonant because it links the front-line construction workers to the local community’s front-line services.

“The impact is evident every time we do this. You see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices,” says Hlus. “It’s meaningful, it makes a real tangible difference in people’s lives, it leaves a positive legacy, and it helps the community understand us and what we do.”

The initial Path to Excellence donation was a $15,000 gift in May to the West Central Crisis and Family Support Centre in nearby Kindersley. A third donation will be made to an as-yet-undetermined recipient at the end of August.

With outreach offices in Kerrobert, Rosetown, Eston and Oyen, the centre provides victim services for those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and other traumatic events, and also offers counselling for families, youth, suicide prevention, anger management and other areas.

May’s Path to Excellence donation will support new computer equipment, emergency kits, and digital safety measures for the centre’s support workers in the field.

“We don’t always get to see the results of our involvement, like the times when we’ve got someone into a safe place or given them the coping tools they need,” says outreach manager Misty Leismeister. “Occasionally, though, we do have clients who come back and tell us: ‘This is where my life is now.’ That’s reward enough for us.”