Steamfitter powers up to inspire other women in trades

Dakota Power will soon be among only a handful of female steamfitters in B.C., and she believes women in trades need to be pioneers for future generations.

There’s only a handful of female steamfitters/pipefitters in B.C., and soon, Dakota Power will be one of them. 

Dakota, a Level 3 steamfitter apprentice, is in her last year of technical training at Piping Industry College. She’s worked on a number of projects, including the Tilbury LNG plant, new Royal Columbian Hospital, Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Fortis BC’s Coquitlam Gate, which is the secondary natural gas distribution station for the Lower Mainland.

“I’ve always loved building and creating things and using my dad’s tools from a young age,” Dakota recalled. “I also enjoy being able to fix something myself.”

Before she started her technical program, she took an introduction to construction course where she spent a week in various trades, but she knew in her heart, she was meant to follow in her family’s footsteps. Her dad and one brother are plumbers/pipefitters, and another brother is a steamfitter.

She admits there have been challenges during her apprenticeship. “Being a woman is definitely hard in the trades no matter what trade you’re in. It’s still very male dominated and intimidating. Being a single mom is even tougher. I’ve definitely learned to stand up for myself when I’m being treated unfairly and made sure I was familiar with our union’s policies and regulations.”

But Dakota says the trades are rewarding. She’s met amazing people in the industry who have given her great advice on which jobs would be the best fit, problem-solving skills, and tricks of the trade. She hopes to be in management one day to share her ideas and knowledge and wants future generations of young tradeswomen to look up to her and be the person they can come to for advice and support.

Dakota tells women that if they don’t know exactly which trade they want to go into, they should take an introductory construction course to get basic skills and knowledge for a variety of trades. That’ll help them decide which path is the right fit. She also recommends that women in trades familiarize themselves with their rights as a worker, and if they’re involved with a union, the rules and rights within the union as well. 

“If the trades interest you, go for it! And don’t give a damn about who thinks you shouldn’t,” said Dakota. “Yes, it will be a hard road, but we must pioneer the way, so our sisters and daughters and nieces have it easier.” 

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