Island electrician commends KTEI on new Anishinabek Skills, Innovation and Research Centre

Construction and maintenance electrician Gina Simon assembles a rack to be used for a line protection system.

MANITOULIN—Electrician Gina Simon is commending Kenjgewin Teg Education Institute (KTEI) on its recent announcement that it will be building an Anishinabek Skills Innovation and Research Centre.

“A trades school like that will be amazing for people in the area,” said Ms. Simon. “It is great that hands-on training will be close to home and you really can’t beat the trades.”

Ms. Simon is from Wikwemikong and got her start in the trades from the wind and solar project in M’Chigeeng.

“The program was available to a number of communities across the North Shore and I got chosen for the program,” said Ms. Simon. “That’s how I got introduced to the electrical world. I had the opportunity to study at Sault College as part of the program for six months. There were four other women in the program too which was neat—it was the first time I got to see other women in the trades.”

“Some of the top students were given the opportunity to enter the workforce or continue with their education and I chose to enter the workforce and started with a wind and solar company in Peterborough,” continued Ms. Simon. “An opportunity came up with Hydro One and I was successfully chosen to do my apprenticeship with them.”

Ms. Simon has completed all her hours and in-class work over the last five years and will be writing her final for her Red Seal next month.

Gina Simon reviews electrical arrangement of components.
Gina Simon reviews electrical arrangement of components.

“I tried a lot of careers over the years, but always came back to wanting to use my hands,” said Ms. Simon. “The trades are great because you earn as you learn. It’s exciting too and every day is different. I find my job very rewarding—getting to be part of creating, building something with your hands.”

Ms. Simon does a lot of public speaking, promoting women in the trades and the trades in general as a career. She noted that while she had to travel to Sault Ste. Marie for her initial training, the new Anishinabek Skills Innovation and Research Centre will provide the opportunity closer to home.

“I’m excited for this to help other people enter the trades,” said Ms. Simon.

As The Expositor previously reported, the 6,000 square foot centre will be located behind the KTEI building in M’Chigeeng and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2018. It will be focused on skilled trades, innovation and research and will offer courses in areas such as welding, electrical, auto, carpentry and plumbing. The over two million dollar centre will offer courses to both First Nation and non-First Nation students.