Giving Power to the Next Generation: Andrew’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Andrew “Dinger” Bell of Chesley, Ontario is a High Voltage Lineman for Hydro One Construction Services. He is also a member of the Canadian Union of Skilled Workers. “Our job is to maintain, and erect new transmission lines for Hydro One within the province of Ontario. The job involves climbing towers and hydro poles, working out of bucket trucks and man baskets attached to cranes, and the operation of wheeled and tracked heavy equipment. We have a very large selection of tools, rigging, hardware, and devices--most of which have been specially designed to our trade. Rope is one of our main tools, for fastening, climbing, hoisting, tool augmentations, etc. ” Andrew explained. The chain hoists that Andrew works with can lift anywhere from ¾ of a ton to 6 tons.

“We have specially designed ladders and working platforms for reaching the wire off the tower. The job involves a lot of training, which is constant, and safety is paramount. Working in an electrical atmosphere is very hazardous and limits of approach for men and equipment must be maintained, while performing approved work practises” he continued. “To become a powerline technician you must complete an 8000 hour apprenticeship [with a] minimum of grade 12 math and English to apply.”

Andrew admits that he initially “had no intentions of following this path”. As he puts it, “I didn’t even know anything about it….” From 2004 to 2006, Bell attended Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario where he was enrolled in Law and Security Administration. From there, he planned to join the army as a police officer, or to “get a security job at Bruce Power”. However, he was offered a job at Hydro One after college and he “never looked back”.

What Andrew loves most about his job has changed over the years. In the beginning, it was about seeing places beyond his hometown, but as time went on, Andrew came to know and love the experiences he’s had with his co-workers, including the newest members of the team. Today, Andrew acts as a mentor for those who are completing their apprenticeships:

“What I loved about my job at first when I started back in 2007 was the travel. I got to see a lot of Ontario and meet a lot of great people along the way. The brotherhood that you become a part of is pretty special. Every co-worker has their own story and family that they’re away from. Once I went north, I just loved working outdoors. Being in the bush in the middle of nowhere in northwest Ontario is very liberating. Now the part I love most is training the new apprentices and being a mentor to the younger generation.”

Now that Andrew Bell has had several years of experience both on his own and while training others, he is able to offer the following advice: “… Be prepared to test your limits, especially working at heights and in the elements, both good and bad. … It can get very windy and very cold in the winter [and] also very hot in the summer, due to no shade. Be able to travel and be away for long periods of time, have a good work ethic and some common sense, and most of all, be eager to learn.”

A Clinical Counsellor’s Perspective: Lanie’s Story

By Emma Kushnir, WorkStory Ambassador

Lanie Schachter-Snipper’s adventure in life and academics has been vast and amazing. After finishing her undergraduate degree from McGill University in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, she took a huge break doing various jobs ranging from teaching first grade in Honduras to running a cultural art tour business in Cuba. She then went back to school at the City University of Seattle for a Master’s degree in Clinical Counselling and Psychology, and finally to Yale School of Medicine to complete a fellowship in the Forensic Drug Diversion Program.

Now settled with a family in Toronto, Lanie is working as a full time clinical counselor for Shepell.fgi providing assessment and crisis intervention for employee assistance.  But her real baby is a non-profit organization Upfront Counselling and Management that she and a criminal defense lawyer founded in 2014. The organization provides psychological support for court-involved individuals who are charged with crimes involving aggression, with a primary focus on domestic abuse and substance abuse.  Offenders are referred by their lawyer, and partake in individual or group counseling that is therapeutic in nature, which is different than other organizations that exist in Toronto.

When asked why she got into the profession of psychology especially after so much different work, she answered that “from a young age I was always interested in deviance, people who broke the law, and crime in general.” As for the making the decision to do a masters program in psychology, she divulged that she applied to many different types of masters and international programs because she knew she needed to do something and was interested in a lot. She explains “in my case it really worked out and my work is really rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else, but it is very challenging and draining, and can be overwhelming.”

 Speaking about the many challenges that comes with the job, she explained that boundaries are hard, “I am fairly good at having a challenging work day and not spending a ton of time thinking about it, so having good self care and maintaining healthy boundaries is very important.” She also clarified that you must set realistic clinical expectations “you have to be realistic of what you can accomplish with people such as those who are living in poverty. One of the hardest things is knowing there are limits to which you can help people.”

Though with the challenging, comes the rewarding. She explained that “everyday I work, I get some feedback that the time I have spent talking to a client has been positive in some way. Whether there is an opportunity to vent or validating feelings, on a daily basis, even if it is subtle, I see the work I’m doing is meaningful to someone. There are moments today at the very least, this person isn’t going to kill themselves. Plus there is always new stuff coming up like new protocols and approaches, which makes it not the very least boring.”

As for people who are interested in this line of work her advice is: “you have to understand how complex people are, no matter how much learning you will do, every single person is unique and needs special attention. In this field you need a certain amount of stamina, energy, and a lot of compassion.” For others seeking out what to do, Lanie offered the advice: “Don’t rush. It can be easy to hurry into things because careers are appealing, but the importance of the in-between gets lost, and it’s an important time. I took so long to figure out what I wanted to do. Meet people travelling, work in different places and environments. Explore and be curious, and learn as much as you can about the wider world and your community. The more experiences you have, the better you will be in any job.”

Online Learning Leads to Secure Career

By Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador

Shane Cuillerier wanted a change of scenery from the Walmart Electronics department, so he began his search online, where, at Blue Knight Security, he found the courses necessary to apply to write a Security Exam. He started at a slow pace, then, during recovery from surgery, he took the time to accelerate through the course order to get his mind off of the recovery process. Shane completed his Private Security & Investigative Service Act course (PSISA), and applied to take the Provincial Security Exam which he passed.

Shane says that almost everything from his studies continues to stick with him, because it is practical and he uses the protocol every day: "What I've learned while doing my studies online is what makes a great security guard vs. your average guard. You need to put other people's values in your mind like they're your own. Let's say I was watching over someone's summer home while they were gone away. In my mind I pretend it's my property, making sure nothing happens to it. It just makes me focus so much more. I learned how to deal with unwanted people without it getting out of hand; how to talk to people who are very angry, so that I can de-escalate the situation. I learned about a lot of laws around Canada; what I can do and can't do. When I'm allowed to use force and not."  The only thing Shane hasn't had to exercise is what to do in the face of a robbery --  and he hopes he will not have to!

Working in the security field wasnt always in Shanes plans. He recalls his father teaching him to draw at the age of six and that for years he had an interest in careers related to drawing and creativity.  While in school, he wanted to be everything from a graphic designer to a professional gardener.  However, more recently, Shane became interested in work done by police officers, which resulted in pursuing the security qualification and gaining necessary security-related experience.

Currently, Shane works at a medicinal production plant. His job is to monitor cameras and workers to make sure everything runs smoothly. At the end of a shift, he records all the happenings in a log book. The most rewarding part of the job, he says, is providing the people you work for with a sense of protection. He loves coming to work every day knowing that those he works for are happy to see him.

The next step for Shane is to apply for both his restricted and non-restricted gun licenses. He also hopes to apply to Garda, where he will learn the practices of money transfers for either banks or businesses.  

When asked for advice for those entering the security field, Shane emphasizes the importance of paying close attention to detail.  If anything happens in a tight situation, the more detail that one is able to give, the better!

My Fitness Dream: “Howe Fit”

By Alexandria Friesen, WorkStory Ambassador  & Amy Howe-Wall

Passion is one of the most easily recognizable traits a person can have.  If you have never known someone or had a conversation with someone who has passion, I’d like for you to meet Amy Howe-Wall. From my first encounter with Amy, I knew that she was a genuinely caring person devoted to improving the wellness of others. It has not always been smooth sailing, but success does not always come easy; it’s a matter of believing that it is worth it.

Amy is the Owner-Operator and Instructor at Howe Fit, the premiere customized fitness and nutrition provider in the greater Kingsville/Leamington/Harrow, ON area. Offered at Howe Fit are group classes, single and group private training, nutrition programs and, most importantly, an incredibly positive environment to help you achieve your fitness goals! So, how has Amy come to gain so much success doing something she loves for a living? Here is her story.

Amy attended Kingsville District High School and, upon graduation, attended St. Clair College in Windsor, ON. She graduated from St. Clair with degrees in both the Paramedic and Law & Security programs while maintaining an athletic scholarship for her badminton career while in college. Amy has also obtained the following licences and certifications on her path to success: Can-Fit Pro Personal Trainer, Can-Fit Pro Fitness Instructor Specialist, Resist-a-Ball Level 1, Kickboxing Certification, Kettlebell Certification, Zumba Certification, Spin Instructor Certification, and Pilates Instructor Certification. Talk about qualifications!

As Amy is self-employed, she will not hesitate to tell you that the path to get to where she is now has not been easy. “As a business owner,” she says, “you come to learn that you work 24/7, no matter if you are present at work or not.”   Howe Fit was established in October, 2010 and it is incredible to see where Amy’s hard work and dedication has brought her once-small business. “When you’re the sole operator, there is no ‘calling in sick’, finding a replacement, or simply not showing up,” she continues, “Work has consumed my life for the last 5 years in some good ways and in some bad.”

With dreams of working in the police force, Amy had always shown a love for health and fitness. The turning point was her own weight-loss success at the age of 20. After working long, tedious hours at other businesses and helping those around her succeed, she decided to try her luck at self-employment at the age of 22. “I always believed in myself so I used that confidence to push through the tough times because I knew deep down I had what it took to become successful,” says Amy.  Like anything in life, there were obstacles – finances, time, energy, support – and sacrifices had to be made.

So what does Amy enjoy most about her job?  The answer is simple: “I am one of those crazy people that absolutely loves working out, I sometimes can’t believe I actually make money doing it on a daily basis!” In addition to that, Amy expresses that helping people achieve their personal goals is one of the greatest accomplishments one can achieve. “It makes me smile knowing I am helping others regain their self-esteem and in some cases their lives”.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in the health and fitness industry or looking to start your own business? This is what Amy has to say to you; “Explore your options! Become well informed and do your research! I do not regret my time working for other business at all…it actually gave me a platform to the people and also a better understanding of how I wanted to run my own business”.  Because of how hectic Amy’s schedule is, there is often little time to do things other people her age may be doing, like going on vacation – “there are a lot of variables to consider; it’s a big decision to make!”

Regardless of the path that Amy will continue down, she knows she will always be involved in health and fitness promotion; “it is who I am, not what I do”, she says, “the sky is the limit for what I wish to accomplish and challenges I wish to tackle.” Regardless of what she chooses to do, it is quite clear Amy will be successful at it.  In times of stress Amy often remembers these words and would like you to do the same the next time you are faced with an obstacle: I would rather live a few years of my life like most won’t, to live the rest of my life like most can’t.