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One Woman’s Dream: Valerie Overend


When Valerie Overend started working towards her carpentry apprenticeship, at that time, she was the only woman in the province enrolled in the program. She attained her red seal carpentry papers in 1989 and by that time, there were fewer than 10 women in the carpentry trade across the whole province. It was also during this time in her life that she became involved in the Girls Entering Trades and Technology (GETT) camp. Her goal was to teach women how to get into the trades. First she focussed on carpentry, then she expanded later into other trades.

Valerie was head hunted to be a female role model in the province by Kathy Stedwill. Kathy had just came back from a holiday to London, ON where she had had an opportunity to visit Fanshwe College, home to the first GETT camp. Upon her return, Kathy set up a steering committee to establish GETT camps in Saskatchewan. 

Partnerships were sought from school boards, the apprentice branch, safety associations, SIAST, and Education Equity Programs. Over the years, Valerie has incorporated numerous other programs, some examples of these are:

  • An alumni program for girls in GETT camps 
  • A one day camp for the GETT camp from grade 9 to grade 12 this tells you if the girls are serious of entering the trades (girls who have previously attended GETT camp)
  • A GETT kindergarten project, university girls are hired (girls who have previously attended GETT camp) take little toolboxes to over 60 classroom’s and conduct presentations in May and June every year (girls only classrooms) to expose the girls at a young age to trades
  • Women and Technology was created in 2000
  • She implemented a provincial coordinators Sask. (WITTT) Women Working in Trades and Technology support group
  • Composed a dragon team-on home renovations
  • Women Hands on Meetings
  • Sask. WITT- this is used as a model for SIAST/SaskPolytechnic
  • Ivolvement of Aboriginal women in to the trades and technology

Valerie’s goal was to introduce girls to careers in the trades and technology, in a safe setting. She wanted to give young women an opportunity to build their confidence, introduce them to the names of tools, and introduce safety and the importance of working safely.

For 5 years Valerie ran the Sask. WITT program, outside of the confines of the SIAST carpentry program. It was a cross training exercise to get women interested in trades. Although Valerie did not work at SIAST full-time, she was granted access to resources and an office. With a great support system, partnerships’ and perseverance, Valerie has succeeded in bringing her vision to life and Valerie’s dream has come full circle in that her granddaughter participated in Regina’s GETT camp this year.

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