Camosun College Recipient of Major Donation

Camosun College Foundation’s TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign and women pursuing skilled trades education on Vancouver Island received a major boost today as the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation announced a $300,000 donation to support women entering the shipbuilding/repair trades at Camosun College.

A further donation of $300,000 will be invested in enhanced trades education at high schools in three South Island school districts and in North Vancouver.

These major donations, announced today at Seaspan’s new shipyard in North Vancouver, are part of a $2.9 million multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in the future of British Columbia’s marine industrial sector by Seaspan and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. The $2.9 million commitment also includes a $300,000 donation to BCIT and a $2 million investment from Seaspan to support Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering programs at UBC.

Camosun President Sherri Bell (l) and Camosun Sheet Metal Grad Sara Wilson (r) join Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth as he announces a $300,000 contribution to the TRADEmark Campaign. Credit: Camosun College.
Camosun President Sherri Bell (l) and Camosun Sheet Metal Grad Sara Wilson (r) join Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth as he announces a $300,000 contribution to the TRADEmark Campaign. Credit: Camosun College.

Camosun College’s new Centre for Trades Education and Innovation opened just four months ago. The spectacular new learning environment is at the forefront of a new era in trades education. It includes 52 custom-designed welding stations and an impressive array of leading-edge equipment in dedicated shops and classrooms. The transformation of Camosun’s trades complex adds capacity for up to 1,000 additional trades students and now, thanks to the $300,000 donation from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, many more of them will be women. Funds from the Foundation will launch Camosun’s “STEP Up for Women Initiative” which includes enhanced outreach to introduce more women to the trades, additional student bursary support, mentoring, career coaching and job placement. This private sector support will greatly enhance Camosun’s existing Women in Trades program funded by the federal and provincial governments.

The contribution of a further $300,000 to the Canadian Welding Association Foundation will be invested in additional teaching equipment and professional development for welding trade teachers in four school districts including Victoria, Saanich and Sooke on Vancouver Island. Camosun and the South Island Partnership school districts are nationally recognized leaders in creating a seamless link between high school and college education. Students can simultaneously finish their Grade 12 year and take trades foundation credit courses at Camosun College through the dual credit program without tuition costs. Over 10,000 students have already benefited from this program. The combined investment of $600,000 by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is expected to increase the number of women enrolled in trades at Camosun each year from 144 today to over 500 by 2020. 

“Giving people the tools they need to succeed in life is a primary goal of the Foundation and the partnership with Seaspan to promote access to state-of-the-art training in the trades is directly aligned with the mission and goals of the Foundation,” said Mike Halligan, Executive Director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

“Seaspan is thrilled to honour these education partners that are helping us develop and grow BC as a shipbuilding and ship repair centre of excellence,” said Jonathan Whitworth, CEO – Seaspan. “Innovation, leadership and world-class trades training are critical components of our vision of driving Canada’s marine industrial base on the West Coast. Today’s announcement demonstrates an unwavering investment in attracting, training and retaining the labour force and expertise.”

“This is a breakthrough moment for women entering the skilled trades in British Columbia,” says Camosun College President Sherri Bell. “Camosun’s new $35 million trades complex has transformed trades education on Vancouver Island and in BC and now many more of our trades students will be women thanks to this generous support from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. We also recognize the essential role of our school district partners on southern Vancouver Island. The Foundation’s support for the entry-level programs where we draw our students from shows true vision and a deep commitment. This creates a seamless educational link for women from high school to job site and excellent careers. Thank you.”

“The Camosun College Foundation’s $5 million TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign is transforming Camosun into the trades education powerhouse of the coast,” says Murray Farmer, TRADEmark Campaign. This is a profound investment in Camosun College and our Coastal Skills Initiative, and we are honoured by this demonstration of support for our faculty and students. Generations of women will launch rewarding careers in the skilled trades as a result. Women of skill and ingenuity have an essential role in filling the skills gap as many of the current male-dominated generation of trades people reach retirement. Thank you for this bold commitment to the future.”

“I love working at the shipyards,” says Sara Wilson, Camosun College graduate, award-winning Red Seal sheet metal tradesperson, and valued employee at Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyard. “These are great jobs and it’s fantastic that Camosun, the college where I discovered my trade, will now educate more women thanks to the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. I will do my part to encourage and welcome them to the trade.”