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Charissa Breault comes from a union family and understands firsthand the benefits and opportunities to advance in building a rewarding career in the trades. She has a remarkable journey of perseverance and truly embodies the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA)’s foundation of honour, justice, and strength. Her journey continues to inspire women across the industry and prospective members to dream big and build big.

Prior to becoming a member of LiUNA, Breault worked as a personal support worker. She knew she wanted a career change and was interested in pursuing a career in the construction industry but was met with some resistance due to the assumption that construction was a predominantly male industry. As LiUNA continues to work diligently to eliminate barriers for women in the trades, and to build a diverse and inclusive workforce whilst highlighting the vast opportunities in the skilled trades, Breault began her transition into the trades. Today, she’s an avid advocate for women in the trades.

In 2012, Breault underwent surgery for a kidney transplant, matched by her husband, a Red Seal labourer and proud member of LiUNA. In 2018, Breault’s career began in the industrial sector before she moved to construction, working as a general labourer on the Imperial Oil Ltd. shutdown in Sarnia, ON. Her determination and immense pride for building stronger communities encourages her to improve and extend her skills training, and she’s now participating in the Construction Craft Worker Apprenticeship program at the new state-of-the-art training facility in Sarnia.

Learn More About Charissa’s Journey as a Proud LiUNA Sister

What inspired you to seek a career in the trades?

I’ve always been inspired by the vast opportunities a career in the trades provides, including the opportunity for advancement. Over the years I watched my husband grow and saw how happy he was doing a job he loved. I wanted to be able to understand what that meant and how that felt. It truly is more than a job, it’s a rewarding career. We now share this memory and passion for community- building as proud members of LiUNA and are part of a great union family.

How did you hear about the LiUNA Construction Craft Worker (CCW) Apprenticeship program?

I first heard of LiUNA CCW through family members who were on this path to career-building, and was immediately captivated by the skills that could be developed through LiUNA’s innovative training programs, which for my family, became skills used in our everyday lives.

Before I started the program I remember thinking to myself, “What am I doing here? I don’t know how to read a tape measure, I’m not the best at math, and I don’t know much about the industry or the tools used in construction.” But with the confidence and determination to pursue a career I was passionate about, I began my training as a proud LiUNA Sister and it was the best decision I could have made. I’m getting firsthand experience and I’m putting the skills to work every single day.

What does the program entail?

The CCW program is an extremely versatile program that offers trainees the capacity to work in a variety of sectors and construction fields. Skills include setting, scaffolding, and concrete placement skills. Some of the tasks completed by a CCW trainee include erecting and dismantling concrete forms, scaffolding, ramps, catwalks, shoring, and barricades, which are all required at construction sites.

Training also includes the mixing, pouring, and spreading of materials such as concrete and asphalt. Trainees also learn about demolition, the removal of rubble and debris from a site, and the operation of the power tools, machines, and other equipment you’d encounter on work sites.

CCW participants work on a wide variety of structures such as residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, as well as hydroelectric dams, roadways, bridges, and railways. With experience, workers who complete additional training can specialize in many different areas of construction. This can include operating off-road vehicles, drilling and blasting, diving, and tunnelling. They’re a critical workforce in building stronger communities across Canada.

How were you supported throughout the program? What does being a part of the LiUNA network look like?

Prior to my training at LiUNA, I considered myself as a shy person who didn’t have the confidence to speak up in school, answer questions, or participate. Throughout my training and with the support of my Training Director and Brothers and Sisters on this journey, I’ve learned to be proud of my continued efforts, to ask for help when needed, and to use the power of my voice to inspire others.

The training instructors are dedicated to ensuring that each and every participant is first and foremost safe and understands the training, which ultimately ensures that when we enter the workforce, we’re performing with a strong foundation of workplace health and safety. Being part of LiUNA is truly like being part of a family. We’re a united Sisterhood and Brotherhood who share a common interest of building a career we’re proud of.

What was your biggest takeaway?

Being a LiUNA Sister means more to me than I can put into words. As a member of LiUNA, I know that my union will always have my back. I’ve found an extended family with LiUNA and know that together we’re making a difference in our communities. I never thought that I’d create a lifetime of learning so many various skills and build a career that I’m proud of every single day. I strongly encourage all women and girls to explore a career in the skilled trades as a top career choice.

What advice do you have for women who are either already in the industry or interested in pursuing the trades?

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. As members of LiUNA, we’re all treated equally and we’re never forced to do a job we can’t handle. We’re prepared through our training to work smart and work safe, and to build stronger communities across Canada. The opportunities are endless. Come join not just a membership but a family that’ll always have your back. Ten years ago, I came off life support and feeding tubes. I beat the odds and look at me now. I never give up on my dreams and I live life to the fullest. If I can do it, you can do it, too!

Stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @LiUNACanada.

Stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @LiUNACanada.

Stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @LiUNACanada.

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