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Gueye introduces francophone students to world of skilled trades

Angela Gismondi
Gueye introduces francophone students to world of skilled trades
CSC MONAVENIR INSTAGRAM - Rokhaya Gueye, a carpenter and community partnership co-ordinator with the Carpenters’ Regional Council, has been making presentations and teaching French language students in Grades 7 to 12 about skilled trades and apprenticeships.

Rokhaya Gueye, community partnership co-ordinator for the Carpenters’ Regional Council, is passing on her knowledge of carpentry and the skilled trades to the next generation.

Gueye visited eight schools in the Conseil Scolaire Catholique MonAvenir, French Catholic school board, talking to students in Grades 7 to 12 about the skilled trades and apprenticeships and teaching them skills through hands-on experiences.

Stéphanie Cantin, OYAP program recruiter, first saw Gueye present at a Skills Ontario competition in the spring of 2023 at the Young Women’s Conference.

“I had the opportunity to speak briefly with her to ask if she did any appearances in schools,” Cantin recalled. “I was thinking specifically of events that our board could plan using the OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) allocation of funds for special projects and I was excited at the possibility of having Rok, a role model for our students, do a presentation for us in French.”

The program targets the families of schools where there is an existing specialist high skills major construction program or associated SHSM program in the works which includes Académie catholique Mère-Teresa in Hamilton and the feeder schools Notre Dame and Monseigneur de Laval; Monseigneur Jamot in Peterborough; Père-Philippe-Lamarche in Scarborough; Reniassance in Aurora; Sainte-Famille in Mississauga; and Nouvelle-Alliance in Barrie.

“As a Francophone woman in the skilled trades, I’m proud to have played a role in making this collaboration with the UBC (United Brotherhood of Carpenters) and the MonAvenir French Catholic District School Board in Ontario possible,” said Gueye. “This partnership is invaluable for francophone students, as it provides greater access to lucrative career options in the construction industry.”

The UBC agreed to subsidize Gueye’s time and travel expenses to plan more presentations and have some budget left for hand-on experiences in small groups with the classroom teachers and the students.

“When Rok comes to the school, she presents her story, information about the construction industry, carpentry, the apprenticeship pathway and of course, some good old inspirational anecdotes to encourage our students to persevere,” said Cantin. “Along with the presentations, we have done birdhouses with the younger grades, basic wall framing and joints with students from both our construction classes and our SHSM construction groups.”

Most of the teachers the students interact with on a daily basis are not tradespeople and are not as familiar with the apprenticeship pathways and opportunities in the trades. 

“We know that students learn through experiences,” Cantin explained. “Having Rok come into our schools exposes students to a real-world tradesperson with real-world experience. That is often very powerful as compared to a regular classroom teacher providing similar information to students.  It’s an event when Rok comes and the students enjoy the hype and the one-on-one time with her when working on the projects.”

During her presentations, Gueye discusses the benefits of being part of the Carpenters’ Union, including training, fair wages, pension, benefits and representation. She delivers her message in French.

“I ensure to share three golden rules I’ve developed: be your true authentic self — embrace authenticity; face your fears and remove ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary; and love yourself and embrace your journey.”

She also conveys messages around empowerment and personal growth including: 

  • Continuous learning: Invest in yourself by acquiring new skills.
  • Coachability: Stay humble and open to feedback for growth.
  • Mentorship: Seek guidance from mentors.
  • Positive mindset: Approach challenges with optimism and a thirst for knowledge.

“By sharing these messages, I aim to inspire and empower youth to pursue their passions and embrace opportunities for personal and professional growth,” said Gueye. “My passion lies in motivating and inspiring young people to achieve their full potential in life, trades, or any endeavour they pursue.”

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

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