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The sky is the limit

180 young women gather at conference

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 18/02) - You can be anything. And the women are here to prove it.

Geologists, police officers, electricians, wildlife officers, chefs, politicians, journalists, hair stylists, pilots, firefighters -- just a few career options presented to young women from across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories during a one-day conference in Yellowknife.

Around 180 middle-school young women attended the Feb. 1 conference sponsored by Skills Canada to bridge the gender gaps in male-dominated professions.

"The percentage of women involved in trades and technology is vary small," said Allyson Stroeder, executive director of Skills Canada for the NWT and Nunavut. "If we can show them at a young age what they can do, they won't be intimidated."

Young women from across the North, form Gjoa Haven to Inuvik, participated in hands-on workshops that featured flight simulators and tours of various workplaces.

"I had fun," said Courtney Klengenberg, 14, from Cambridge Bay. "It's good to meet more girls because it's hard to travel from my community."

Klengenberg said more women need to get involved in the community's economic development.

"More women should be in business," said Klengenberg. "They should be able to work on their own."

Celida Porter, 13, from Gjoa Haven, discovered her calling at the conference.

"I want to be in politics," said Porter. "There should be more women as MLAs."

Roxanne Halo, 14, from Kugluktuk, also found a career path to follow.

"I want to work with the RCMP," said Halo. "They do a lot of DNA testing and it looks interesting."

Other students said their chosen careers were not at the conference, which points to lack of women in those respected fields.

"I want to be a computer technician," said Jamie Lennie, 13, from Inuvik. "I didn't see any jobs I wanted to do."

But Lennie said she still had fun.

Delia Chesworth, president of the association of professional engineers of the NWT, said the North offers a wide array of jobs to young women.

"There's a lot of different choices in the North," said Chesworth. "The career mix is different than a Southern community."