Celebrating Apprenticeship Recognition Week: Q&A with Red Seal Machinist, Chelsea Barron

Chelsea Barron is a member of the Tsilhqot'in (Chilcotin) Nation and is registered with the Anaham band (Tl'etinqox) which is part of the Tsilhqot'in Nation. The 24-year-old is also a proud North Delta resident.

When she was young, she played hockey on a boys’ team and fantasized about playing professionally. The work ethic she learned from sports and the examples set by her father and brother, who are both tradespeople, led her to pursue to a career she loves as a Red Seal Machinist. We sat down with Chelsea to find out more about her work and aspirations.

Q1: What pushed you toward the trades and, specifically, toward being a Machinist?

Growing up in a trades-oriented family inspired and intrigued me. My dad and brother are both tradespeople and I looked up to them a lot; I admired how my dad would do things around the house and enjoyed when he'd take me to his shop. Trades are lucrative and offer good benefits, and hands-on, creative learning suits me. As I researched the various trades, I learned about machining and knew my personality and eye for detail would bring me success in this field. There are so many things Machinists make that help the world to run, like precision parts for a car engine, aerospace, helicopters, satellites and airplanes.

Q2: What is a typical day at work like?

I work in the forestry industry for Raute Canada, which builds massive machines that manufacture plywood and wood veneer. I work with Electricians, Millwrights and Fabricators to make these machines and my role is to make the precision parts for motors, among other things.

A typical day starts early for me; I have a variety of different tasks I’m responsible for completing. I operate lathes, milling machines, drill presses, and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines. Every day I try to learn something new and make the best of every single moment.

Q3: Have you encountered barriers as a woman in a male-dominated field?

My experience in the field has been positive. All the men I have worked with have treated me as an equal and I’ve been given the same opportunities as my male counterparts. It would be great to have more women in trades.

Q4: What are your career plans?

I’m inspired by my grandmother, an Aboriginal Residential School Survivor who faced challenges and barriers that limited her ability to pursue any education or career. She inspires me to pursue my dreams and make the most of my life. She motivates me every day to keep working hard.

I’m proud to have received my Red Seal certification and have no intention of stopping here. I’d like to further my education in manufacturing, engineering and business. I’m specifically interested in either machine shops that work with medical sciences, like prosthetic limbs, or in the film industry, making intricate cameras, etc. I also think one day I’d like to be in management. The sky is the limit!

Q5: What advice would you give to other women who are considering a career in the trades?

Trades are not always dirty or hard on your body. As a Machinist, I use my brain and I’ve noticed that women sometimes approach a task differently from men. We have fresh ideas and can help the industry take the next step forward. We also tend to have good interpersonal skills, which is helpful in working with a multitude of other tradespeople.

My advice to other women who are considering a trades career would be to demonstrate your abilities through your hard work and a commitment to learning. Don't be influenced by other people’s perceptions of what women can or cannot do – we are just as capable as men, if not more! Read more about Chelsea in the North Delta Reporter.

Want to start your career as a Machinist?

Do you know an apprentice or employer champion?

The Champions of Apprenticeship are recognized for their outstanding achievements in BC apprenticeship system. These Champions are celebrated for their hard work in creating certified tradesworkers, supporting their industry and promoting apprenticeship. Do you know an outstanding employer sponsor or apprentice? Send us an email and nominate them to become a Champion of Apprenticeship!