Julie-Claire Hamilton, journeyperson electricianJulie-Claire Hamilton, journeyperson electrician

First Nations, BC

Julie-Claire Hamilton

If you ask journeyperson electrician Julie-Claire Hamilton, some jobs in the construction industry require a woman’s touch.

“They say that women are detail-oriented; electrical involves a lot of detail,” she says. “I think there are certain parts of electrical that are great for women in general.”

Julie-Claire didn’t find her ideal job right away. A non-status First Nations from North Vancouver, she spent years as a seasonal worker, travelling across BC as a tree planter and nature trail guide. But by her late twenties, Julie-Claire had grown tired of moving around and began to look for a job with more stability and security.

At a friend’s suggestion, Julie-Claire enrolled in the Electrical Apprenticeship program at Selkirk College in BC. Not long after she began the nine-month block of in-class pre-apprenticeship training, Julie-Claire realized she would need to find work to fund the rest of her studies.

Luck was on her side. After four months of pre-apprenticeship at Selkirk, Julie-Claire saw an ad posted by the Lower Columbia Aboriginal Association (LCAA), offering to help Aboriginal people find work. Julie-Claire gave them a call and was put in touch with employment counsellor Ed Pongracz. Much to her surprise, Julie-Claire discovered that she was eligible for funding for her in-class training.

“[Ed] helped me get funding for the rest of the nine-month course,” Julie-Claire says, “and for the other 10-week in-class training blocks in my remaining three years of apprenticeship.”

Clearly, the LCAA made a good investment in Julie-Claire. She has worked steadily since beginning her apprenticeship in 2002, and received her journeyperson ticket in January 2006. Now 33 and based in Nelson, BC, she is working on projects in several sectors, including Commercial, and New Home Building and Renovation.

And Julie-Claire doesn’t hesitate in saying that being female has helped her succeed as an electrician. She explains that many customers on smaller projects—such as houses or small commercial jobs—are more comfortable dealing with a woman. “Women tend to be somewhat more personable,” Julie-Claire says. As a result, her employers have relied on her to meet with customers—and Julie-Claire couldn’t be happier about that.

“When you walk through the house and the lighting looks great and the customer is really happy… That (is) one of the most satisfying moments,” she says.