By Cindy Chant
Former Tignish resident Nancy Gaudet has another first to put under her belt as she recently completed and received her Red Seal certificate in plumbing. This would make Ms Gaudet the first female plumber to receive such distinction across the Island. This first comes a several years after being named the first female firefighter hired by the North River Fire Department in Charlottetown.
“I don’t feel like it is a big thing, it was just something I wanted to do...I knew I could do it all along. It was just a matter of getting there,” said Ms Gaudet.
Achieving such a goal didn’t come quickly to the Charlottetown resident, the journey began after she applied to the plumbing course in 1996 after the nursing home she was employed by closed its doors.
“I started off as a resident care worker in a nursing home, but when that closed I wasn’t sure what I was going to do...I knew I liked working with my hands,” she said.
Ms Gaudet was just 10 years old when the family moved back to the Island after her father finished his work as a welder in Hamilton. The home did not have working plumbing and according to Ms Gaudet “I didn’t have any brothers so it was my job to look after that part of the household chores...it didn’t bother me at all.”
Now 37 years later, she can now do what she has always loved - getting her hands dirty.
After applying and being accepted in the late 90’s, Ms Gaudet completed the course at that time, but unfortunately her instructed became ill before she could participate in the two weeks of on the job training. Ms Gaudet went on to write the exam and passed it with flying colours only to find out she would have a challenge ahead of her when she could not find any work as a female plumber.
“I even went to the Plumber’s Union and couldn’t even get an interview...it was frustrating because nobody even got to see my work or what I was able to do,” said Ms Gaudet.
After several months passed, Ms Gaudet was able to find some work in the plumbing field, but was told on various occasions that “wives would be jealous” if she had worked for them.
When Ms Gaudet was asked how she was treated being a woman in a male dominated field, she stated “It is what you allow to have happen to yourself. I don’t allow anybody to push me or treat me any differently.”
Recently Ms Gaudet decided she needed a change in her life so after a great deal of consideration her heart was still in the plumbing trade.
“I thought I wasn’t getting any younger so I went back to school and had to do the course all over again...it was completely different then it was in 1996. Now they use the Alberta modules,” said Ms Gaudet, explained “I am glad I did...it worked this time and even got into the Plumber’s Union this time.”
Ms Gaudet has also enjoyed being a motivational speaker for other women who are showing interest in the plumbing trade.
“Getting into a job like this you have to have the right personality. I love plumbing because I get to see the end result.”
According to Ms Gaudet, “The way kids are brought up today their not getting a lot of the hands on experience...it’s all computer and technology. I don’t think people should be in the trades that aren’t cut out for it. I learn with my hands, so it is a good fit.”
Ms Gaudet specializes in the commercial side of the plumbing trade and recently was one of the crew who was involved in the construction of the new section at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Charlottetown.
“This has been a long journey...since the beginning it has been 17 years, but it was well worth it. I am very happy where I am now.”