Brit­tani Rus­sell


Brit­tani Rus­sell’s fu­ture changed when she de­cided to leave a camp job af­ter be­com­ing a sin­gle par­ent of very young chil­dren. On a whim Rus­sell took an in­ter­view her brother could not make with the Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity Ca­reer Em­ploy­ment Ser­vices So­ci­ety (AC­CESS) for a seat in the Metal Fabri­ca­tion pro­gram. It re­sulted in her ac­cep­tance into the course. “When I thought the fu­ture didn’t look so great, a lot of good stuff started hap­pen­ing,” Rus­sell said.

Rus­sell al­ready knew of AC­CESS Trades. She had heard of its part­ner­ship with Sea­s­pan, an as­so­ci­a­tion of Cana­dian com­pa­nies pri­mar­ily in­volved in coastal ma­rine trans­porta­tion, and wanted to ex­plore a ca­reer in the field. “When I was a kid I was a Sea Cadet, and al­ways wanted to work in the ship­yards and with metal. My great grand­fa­ther was a Sil­ver­smith and my fa­ther was a Sheet Metal Worker in HVAC.”

Once ac­cepted, AC­CESS con­ducted Es­sen­tial Skills test­ing to as­sess Rus­sell’s com­pe­ten­cies, then de­signed a sup­port sys­tem for skills up­grad­ing to help Rus­sell dur­ing her train­ing. It would be sev­eral months be­fore the Bri­tish Columbia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (BCIT) pro­gram started. While wait­ing for it, Rus­sell com­pleted the BladeRun­ners 16 safety and in­dus­try-rec­og­nized cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. She said, “When the BCIT Metal Fabri­ca­tion pro­gram be­gan, I felt more than ready to suc­ceed.”

Through­out the pro­gram AC­CESS of­fered on­go­ing sup­port through tu­tor­ing, study groups and aid from the Trades Pro­gram Train­ing and Em­ploy­ment Coaches. “They also helped me con­nect with my Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage. It was the Abo­rig­i­nal sup­port and con­nec­tions that en­abled me to ex­cel at BCIT.” Rus­sell was not only suc­cess­ful in the pro­gram, but she also won schol­ar­ships, grants and bur­saries.

Re­sume sup­port and in­ter­view coach­ing helped her win a po­si­tion as an ap­pren­tice Fabri­ca­tion Spe­cial­ist, which then led to her cur­rent job work­ing with an ear­lier em­ployer, Wel­lons, as a Ma­chine Op­er­a­tor, and with Iron Work­ers 712. Rus­sell said, “Less than two years ago, I was on So­cial As­sis­tance and couldn’t make ends meet. To­day, I am com­pletely debt-free with per­fect credit, life in­sur­ance, a pen­sion, RRSPs and other ben­e­fits. I’m now able to make a bet­ter fu­ture for my kids and me.”

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