The Attawapiskat First Nation is an isolated region in Northern Ontario where residents are subjected to harsh living conditions and often struggle to find work. For many years, traditional gender roles have prevented female members of the Attawapiskat community from pursuing fulfilling careers, operating heavy machinery.
This gender discrimination problem is what motivated our team at 5th Wheel Training Institute to embrace an initiative, which sought to provide six Attawapiskat women with the training and certification they need to operate heavy machinery. The experiences of the six women who pursued a college education at 5th Wheel Training Institute were documented and released in the form of a short video.
The six women who entered this program began with five weeks of experience operating heavy machinery. Most of these women claimed it was their first time ever coming into contact with these machines. The women then moved on to a week of mechanical training, followed by a final week of working on the grader. One participant stated, “I had a fear of the machines at first,” however the women were met with plenty of “seat time” due to the small program size and amount of equipment available to them.
The six women featured in this video were able to complete our training program with complete funding and coverage of all of their expenses thanks to numerous programs run by the band leadership. One of the women claimed “I always had an interest in heavy equipment… I’ve been looking for funding elsewhere.” Most of the participants in this program had families at home to support and were unable to gather the funds for a college education on their own. One of our members of staff explains, “this is the first time it was the full group of women.”
Success of the program
This all-female training initiative was a great success for the Attawapiskat community, providing six women with hands-on experience in the field, along with complete funding, transportation to and from the college, support from our staff and comfortable housing during the program. A member of our staff expresses his confidence in this initiative by stating, “I’m pretty sure that the heavy equipment skills that these ladies have learned will serve them very well back home.”