Ironworkers Host a Welding Camp for Deaf Youth in B.C.

A group of deaf youth in British Columbia got a taste of ironworking this past June, at an experiential learning event hosted by the Ironworkers Union Local 97 in Burnaby.

The event — part of a series called Mind Over Metal, organized by the Canadian Welding Association (CWA) Foundation — gave students from the B.C. School for the Deaf a chance to try plasma cutters and welding guns, and to learn about the associated career options.

And in effort to show students that deafness isn’t a barrier to ironworking, Local 97 had one of its two deaf apprentices speak with the students.

Ken McKen, western manager of the CWA Foundation, told that the experience hopefully taught students that welding can also be an art form. “If they use their creativity and use their imagination, they can become an artist. We’ve had some great creations here. Who knows where it might go.”

Mind Over Metal camps are typically geared towards at-risk youth as a means of opening their eyes to a new skill and to job opportunities. The unique partnership with the B.C. School for the Deaf was sparked at a conference in Vancouver in the fall of 2015, where some of the school’s students expressed interest in trying the welding simulator at the CWA booth.

The foundation, which is the charitable arm of Canada’s national welding association, brought the simulator to the school that December, and decided to extend the partnership further with the special edition of Mind Over Metal.