Written for Daily Hive by Téana Graziani, a freelance journalist based in Toronto.
Celeste Lamondin is a woman who works in the trades – specifically as a brick and stonemason. The 24-year-old has never worked with another woman, but her goal is to change that.
“It’s definitely a male-dominated industry,” Lamondin told Daily Hive. “I’ve only ever worked with guys. I haven’t worked with a female yet.”
According to Statistics Canada, as of 2020, the number of Canadian women working in the skilled trades was below 5%.
Lamondin has been promoting women in trade work over the past year on her Instagram account — brickdaddyto— where she posts photos and videos of herself working on her craft. It’s a way to document her work and show other young women that bricklaying isn’t just for men.
View this post on Instagram
“I was doing any kind of random job and then thought, ‘Oh, I should try something outside, because I’m sick of being indoors,’” said Lamondin. “I wasn’t just looking for a job; I was looking for a career.”
Before joining the apprenticeship program through the Ontario College of Trades, Lamondin didn’t even know what masonry was.
“I saw that masons make a lot of money and decided to join the apprenticeship program!” she said.
Two years into her three-year masonry apprenticeship, Lamondin hasn’t looked back. She works from 7 am to 3 pm mainly on heritage restoration projects, where she demolishes older homes and patch-rebuilds them.
View this post on Instagram
She believes that other women can find passion in the trade, too, which is where she came up with the idea to start her Instagram account promoting the field.
“Before my second year, I was like, maybe I should start an Instagram because I’ve never seen any girl do this before,” said Lamondin.
“[I figured] if I haven’t seen an Instagram like mine, then other girls probably haven’t either. If another girl is wondering what to do and she sees me doing something she never thought she could do, then I could be a guide for her.”
Lamondin’s goal is to eventually own her own masonry company where she can teach women the craft, and introduce women to the trade.
Her engaging social media presence seems to be paying off and pushing her in the right direction. Through her promotion of the trade, Lamondin has recently accrued sponsorships and ambassadorships, as well as public speaking opportunities.
She was recently featured on JobTalks’ YouTube channel promoting masonry and encouraging women to consider it as a career option, and also spoke on a panel for the Ontario Youth Apprentice Program last month.
Her efforts seem to come at an opportune time, with trades workers in high demand in recent years as a result of increased demand for labour, as well as retirements. This is especially true for trades that run in line with construction, where the most demand is seen.
According to a 2019 report from Statistics Canada, women account for just one in 10 of every person enrolled in an apprenticeship in Canada. Most of those apprenticeships are concentrated in female-dominated programs such as hairstyling and esthetics, but there is room for women in other trades, too.
Statistics Canada reports that one in five women who enroll in apprenticeship programs choose traditionally male-dominated trades like carpentry, welding, and electrician.
“There is definitely an advantage to being a woman [mason],” said Lamondin. “You will receive a lot of help – people want to support you.”
That is also true for the federal government, which offers Apprenticeship Incentive Grants (AIGs) to women who apprentice in a Red Seal trade. It awards up to $3,000 for each year of apprenticeship completed, to a maximum of $6,000 over the course of the training.
Programs specifically aimed at encouraging women to enter the trades are making contributions as well. Every year, Conestoga College holds a “Jill of All Trades” event for teenage girls at its Cambridge, Ontario, campus.
There is plenty of space for women in the trades, and Lamondin will be the first to welcome them.
“I’ve been trying to recruit more women onto my team,” she said. “I’ve already got one, and I’m trying to wrangle in some more!”