Young Women's Conferences

Skills Ontario’s Young Women’s Conferences take place in conjuction with the Skills Ontario Competition. The 2022 conference was held virtually on May 3, 2022.

Event Flyer

Event Agenda

Demo Information

Featured Speakers

OYAP Panel


Emily Pyke

Emily Pyke is a red seal automotive service technician at Heffner Lexus
in Kitchener, Ontario. Her story began 
when she took an auto
course in high school and fell in 
love with the trade! 8 years later
and her passion for cars 
continues to grow!


Hannah Hempinstall

Hannah Hempinstall is a 23 year old Automotive Service Tech Journeyperson.
She has recently completed her apprenticeship and is preparing
to write her Red Seal Exam to become a fully licensed Automotive Technician.
"Growing up, university after high school was always my plan.
As a kid I spent a lot of time on the back of my Dads bike and going to
vintage car shows. If it had wheels and an engine, I was into it. But the
thought never crossed my mind that it could be a career for me. 
That changed
in grade 11 when my Mom suggested I take an auto class. She said if I wanted
to drive a car, I needed to know how to change a tire and check my own oil. 
was fortunate enough to have a shop teacher who welcomed me into his class
and encouraged my interest in the trade. I fell in love with wrenching, and
the rest is history! I pursued an auto apprenticeship right out of high school
and have never looked back. 
My Grandfather is also a mechanic, so
it seems it’s been in my blood all along. 
Conquering this male dominated
industry day by day has its challenges, but the rewards keep me
motivated towards my goal of building a successful career and
mentoring other women into the trade."


 Jessica Duquette

Jessica was raised on a farm in a mining community in Northern Ontario.
As long as she can remember she has been fascinated with the mining industry.

Throughout her high school years she enjoyed hands on technical
programs. Prior to graduation she jumped on an opportunity to sign up
for a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) specifically for mining. SHSM
is a specialized program that allows students to gain credits toward
their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and focus their learning on a
specific economic sector at the same time. 
The program proved to be a
great experience. Jessica learned that she loved mechanics. The experience
ignited her desire to understand how everything worked. She considered automotive
and other mechanical programs but none were specific to mining. While
looking into her options, she discovered an "Industrial Millwright Mechanic"
program and decided to go for it, it was perfect. 
Jessica loves being a Millwright apprentice,
she has learned so many things. She works on something new almost every day
and never gets bored. She has realized there is a place for everyone in the
skilled trades. Jessica is also a KickAss Careers Ambassador.

Laurin Padolina
Laurin went from Broadway to barns and from character heels to working at heights
As a new mom, her major career change from musical theater to welding was
born out of necessity. She needed financial stability and a new career that was
equally adventurous and fulfilling as the arts had been. In 2018 she attended a 4 month
pre-apprenticeship program with The Technical Trade Group offering students
multi-exposure to welding and fabricating. Her introduction to welding quickly
turned into an apprenticeship and launched her into a dynamic career as a welder.
Laurin loves engaging with both youth and mature students as she shares
about her journey from theater to blue collar trades. She is a member of the
AMDSB and TTG speakers bureau and a proud ambassador for Kickass Careers. 


 Brandy Bundscho

Farming is what Brandy was raised on. She'd done it all her life and when she
was introduced to welding in grade 9 shop class, she knew she wanted a job that had
both farming and welding. 
"The summer after grade 11 I found a job with
VanNes Custom Welding; which is a business that focuses mainly on
argicaurtle repairs and instals. 
Going into grade 12 I started with co-op and
right away I knew where I wanted to do my placement so I called up
my boss and right away I had my placement but I didn’t just get a co-op placement
I actually also got signed as a welding apprentice with this company.
Since I was still in highschool and getting my apprenticeship started I enrolled
as an OYAP student. This way the government actually helped with
covering for the cost of my schooling. I was doing my co-op during the day then
attending my first level of schooling in the evenings twice a week from 6-10pm. I
will say that it was a lot but I don't regret what I did because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be this
close to being done. 
My apprenticeship is with the Technical Training Group right here
in Stratford. (They run multiple programs for welders and metal fabricators, their
classes also run in the evenings after most people's work hours). Right now
I am in my last year of schooling so when I finish my final level (3)
and all my required hours I can go write my RedSeal test and become a
RedSeal Ticketed Welder."


Speaker Panel


Clarice Ward

Clarice Ward is a Project Manager, Specialty Contracts at
Melloul-Blamey Construction, one of Ontario’s largest open shop
general contractors. An advocate for the extensive opportunities within
the construction industry, and a powerful voice for equity, diversity, and
inclusion, she currentlyserves on the Board of Directors for Skills Ontario
and at the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades
and Technology (WinSETT). Clarice was the first woman to receive
the prestigious Premier’s Award in 2019 for the Apprenticeship
category; Colleges Ontario’s highest honour.  In 2021, Clarice was
awarded Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the
Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Category.


Jennifer Cowdrey

 Jen is an electrical/chassis/HVAC quality engineer at General Motors
CAMI Assembly. 
She holds a motive power technician diploma, as well
as mechanical engineering technician diploma from Fanshawe College. 
has worked in the automotive sector since 2008, and enjoys the
fast-paced, hands-on environment!

Samantha Cormier

Samantha Cormier works for Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
on the Darlington Refurbishment project as a Field Construction
Coordinator within the Constriction Services organization. She
holds a Certificate of Qualification as a Construction Millwright (426A)
and has worked in the construction and nuclear industries for
just under ten years, having started her apprenticeship in 2012.

She is currently the Controlling Authority and lead of the
Refurbishment Space Allocation and Management (RSAM) program.

 Kendra Liinama

In April 2020, Kendra volunteered at a Skills Ontario Young Women's
Conference, and at that point, she'd never seen another female millwright

apprentice in person. In that moment, she knew she wanted to
be one of those women one day. "I wanted enough confidence to
tell all those young girls not only do I love my job but I'm passionate about it,
and what I do, all the differences I make as a woman in the workforce and the
huge accomplishments we can achieve together." Now, Kendra is a a millwright
apprentice at Vale and a consistent trades represenative for Cambrian.
Growing up, I didn't realize this was an option for me, but now that
I'm here, I can't believe there was ever anything else to considered."


Maria Ranagel

Maria is an Industrial Engineer, with 11 years of experience
in the Manufacturing Industry. 
She started working as an Industrial
Engineer for Magna International (Seating Division) 8 years ago when
she arrived in Canada. 
She had the opportunity of designing the first materials’
sequencing area of Magna Seating North America which was later
replicated across multiple Magna Seating divisions within the region. 
She has
obtained her Project Management Professional certification (PMP) and is
currently working to obtain the Business Analysis certification. 
She is currently
performing the role of Product Engineer, and is responsible for
Product Launches and Change Management for Magna Seating
Division located in Mississauga, Ontario.


Keynote Speaker


Kate Campbell

Kate was raised in Georgetown, Ontario and has a passion for adventure
and travel. She found her passion for carpentry after taking a
skills course for women. She is a strong advocate for women
in the skilled trades and speaks to students and apprentices across the country.

Her television career started at Holmes on Homes, where
she worked on and off camera as an apprentice carpenter. Her jump to
the outdoors was a result of a job offer from Paul Lafrance of Deck Wars,
Decked Out, Disaster Decks and Custom Built. 
Kate has been featured on HGTV’s
Home To Win, Island of Bryan, and Family Home Overhaul. 
Kate began buying and
flipping homes during her off seasons. After her latest sale, she packed up and headed
to Nanaimo, BC. 
Kate is the real deal when it comes to an authentic voice for women
in the skilled trades. She lives the experience every day, on and off camera.


Demo Information

Please find details on the DIY demos linked below!

Birdhouse Material List
Birdhouse How-To Video

DIY Live Edge Desk Poster
DIY Live Edge Table Video