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When I grow up, I want to be a scaffolder (yes, that’s really a thing!)

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by Viviana Zanocco
December 19, 2016

Natural Gas, Projects



Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll get answers like ‘a doctor’, ‘a teacher’, or simply ‘rich and famous!’  Chances are ‘a scaffolder’ doesn’t even crack the top ten list of responses.

Samantha Ethier never saw herself in the role, but she’s an apprentice scaffolder on the Tilbury LNG Expansion Project, and loving it. She’s always been athletic and willing to try new sports, so when her brother-in-law suggested she try scaffolding as a profession (he was a foreman with a scaffolding company) she accepted the challenge.

“That first year I worked with some amazing journeymen and learned a lot. When I began building scaffolding, I realized I loved it,” says Samantha.

Being smaller than her work mates has presented some challenges. “I’m shorter than the average scaffolder, and not quite as strong,” she says. “Ergonomics—body positioning—is so important when you’re building. It’s been helpful to have mentors show me how I can do things more comfortably and safely.”

The expansion has provided significant employment and economic benefits to workers and businesses in Delta and neighbouring communities. More than 140 local companies have been contracted and more than 870 tradespeople are registered for work on the project, with 60 apprentices working on site.

Samantha is appreciative that she’s one of them. “This has been one of the most supportive learning environments I’ve ever experienced,” says Samantha.  Because of that support, she noticed she was fine-tuning her skills more quickly. “The mentorship I’ve had has been key to my learning.”

Samantha is close to her goal of completing her apprenticeship and getting her scaffolding journeyperson “ticket”. Once she gets it, she’s looking forward to mentoring and helping apprentices the way she’s been mentored during the Tilbury LNG Expansion project. “I love teaching. Learning is supposed to be fun—if you have good mentors like I’ve had then it’s easier.”