Celebrating Pride Month with Carissa Belyk

Carissa Belyk is a Red Seal Electrician who was first introduced to the trades by her dad, a lifelong framer and carpenter! In this post, Carissa speaks to her apprenticeship journey as well as important issues in the 2SLGBTQ community.

How did you first hear about the skilled trades and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?

My Dad, a life-long framer/carpenter, introduced me. I discovered the ACE-IT program (now known as Youth Train in Trades) in high school when I enrolled for 1st Level Joinery. After participating in a Trades Discovery Program through BC Hydro, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career as an electrician and keep woodworking as a hobby.

What do you love most about the skilled trades?

I love building things and working with my hands. The skilled trades are a great opportunity to get paid to learn and avoid student debt. I love seeing a project from beginning to end and revelling in a strong sense of accomplishment. There are endless opportunities for growth and further training. The skilled trades are not just a way to make money, but a way to make a life!

What does Pride Month or celebrating the 2SLGBTQ+ community mean to you?

Celebrating the 2SLGBTQ+ community means dismantling archaic stigmas and coming together to support an equitable future. I am openly queer now but I did not always feel comfortable sharing this part of myself. Growing up, I lacked the education and support to be my authentic self. Pride Month is important to me because not only do I get to feel a part of a community where I feel I belong, I also get to be a part of economic growth.

Pride Month is a time to reflect on what hasn't worked for us, what is working for us now, and what we can do better moving forward. I am glad to do what I can to educate others and provide a safe space for those in need. Celebrating 2SLGBTQ+ means commemorating those that came before me, those that fought hard for equity in a hostile climate. I am proud to be queer and owe my gratitude to the trail blazers that paved the way and for the continued efforts of our collective.

Has the trades community become more open to 2SLGBTQ+ members since you've joined the trade? What progress, if any, has been made?

Generally speaking, yes! In the last decade or so I have seen an increase in diversity & inclusion in my employment and in the hiring process. Unfortunately, there are still companies, bosses, and coworkers that remain bigots. I have dealt with countless ignorant remarks over the years, and I've stayed away from employers that are known to lack progression. Now, I am doing what I can to help change the culture at work to be more inclusive and supportive. Diversity and inclusion are crucial components of creating a safe space for all people.

What advice would you give to people who are considering joining the skilled trades?

  1. Networking is priceless. The more connections that you can make in this industry, the more opportunities come your way. Networking allows you build a strong support network to help set you up for success in the skilled trades.
  2. Advocate for your own apprenticeship! You may find that your employer has you doing the same task for too long or that a certain employer can only expose you to limited equipment. Whatever the case, if you feel stuck or are not learning what you want to be learning, don't be afraid to find better opportunities. You are ultimately responsible for how your apprenticeship goes.
  3. Hang in there! Never give up on yourself or let someone else walk you out the door. You deserve to be in trades as much as the next person! Let other's BS roll off of you like water off a duck's back (thanks Jinkx Monsoon for that mantra).

Is there anything else you'd like to mention?

Happy Pride to all of you beautiful humans!! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like to connect.

Connect with Carissa on Instagram at @CarissaRobbin or on LinkedIn.

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!