Lessons from Québec

October 11th, 2011 by Richard Burman

As part of developing the project I went to Québec City on June 2-3 for the 17th Skills Canada National Competition . Some 500 young people from across Canada competed in over 40 trade and technology areas. It was a great opportunity to do research and to get footage for the demo. There is one story that has stuck with me as a metaphor for the usefulness of hands in our lives. Gary Elbers who is an auto mechanics teacher and a volunteer at the competition told me about one of his students. At the start of the course he asked him what he wanted to do in life. He responded that he wanted to be a medical surgeon. Gary then asked why he chose to take auto mechanics. He said that if he was going to be working inside the human body he had to get use to manipulating parts that would be hidden from view. He thought that working on cars would be a great way to learn that skill. So Gary then made sure that his assignments would give him that opportunity. What a smart student to think ahead like that.

UPDATE It is now 2016 and I decided to resurrect the footage from my trip to Québec and turn it into a short doc called Skilled for LIFE. Seeing this footage brought back memories of the stories I heard then. I decided to look up the two young people I interviewed. Annabelle Mongrain is working as an aircraft mechanic at Premier Aviation, an airport in Trois-Rivières, Québec. Jonathan Sinke has his own company now which specializes in solid wood furniture, custom kitchen cabinetry, wall units and bookcases. I hope they are both fulfilled in their chosen profession. I also hope they will write a little note below reflecting on their career choice and their experience at the Skills Canada National Competition.

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