Victor Keewatin, apprentice bricklayerVictor Keewatin, apprentice bricklayer

Key First Nation, SK

Victor Keewatin

For Victor Keewatin, a fourth-year apprentice bricklayer from Key First Nation in Saskatchewan, working in Canada’s construction industry is a family affair.

A few years ago, Victor was working in the produce section at a local grocery store in Saskatoon. He was only getting part-time hours and wanted something with more security and better pay.

His older brother John had been working as a construction craft labourer for five years. One day John heard of a job opening for a labourer on one of his sites. “(John) helped me get the job,” says Victor.

Construction appealed to Victor right away. He enjoyed working outside on a variety of projects and seeing the results of his work every day. But after working as a construction craft labourer for nearly three years, Victor thought it was time to choose a trade to specialize in. “I wanted to take (my career) to the next level,” he says.

He decided he would try his hand at a few different trades until he found one that excited him—but bricklaying, the first trade he tried, became the one he chose. Now 29, Victor is just months away from becoming a journeyperson bricklayer.

“I think it’s a great job and a great opportunity for anybody looking to better their life,” he says. “It sure made my life a lot more comfortable.”

The pay isn’t the only aspect of the trade that Victor enjoys. He takes great pride in the projects he’s worked on, including Bethlehem Catholic High School in Saskatoon and the Dakota Dunes Hotel and Casino on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. “It’s fulfilling to see the work that you’ve done,” Victor says. “It’ll be standing there for a long time. The masonry part of it is always the main feature of a building.”

But the job benefit that hits closest to home for Victor is the quality time he now gets to spend with his nephew Darnell. Just a few months ago, Darnell was working in a grocery store, earning a low hourly wage. Victor saw an opportunity to return the favour that his brother had done him years before.

Victor recommended Darnell to his employer for a job as a construction craft labourer. Today, the two work side by side. And Darnell plans to continue in his uncle’s footsteps by registering as an apprentice bricklayer. “It’s nice working with him, spending time with my nephew,” Victor says. “I’m proud to see that he’s a hard worker and I’m glad I recommended him.”