Update: Denise Bougie Achieves Red Seal IP Journeyperson Electrician Status

March 7, 2015 in People
Explorer: Spring 2015

There are some stories that strike a strong chord with readers – and writers too. I will never forget interviewing Denise Bougie, a Uranium City resident who had just achieved her fourth year electrical while working for Flyer Electric. Her inspiring story was featured in our Fall 2013 edition of the Explorer newsletter.

Denise hasn’t been shy about sharing her story about her life as an addict and her subsequent recovery. In 2006, Denise was incarcerated for trafficking, and heavily addicted to drugs. The birth of her first grandchild, and only being able to see her baby granddaughter through prison glass, was the catalyst that inspired her to change her life. At 40 years old, she was starting over. But with a little bit of help, and a lot of hard work and determination, Denise turned her life around, and by 2013 had achieved her 4th year Electrical and was living back in her home community with her family.

“This has been one heck of a journey to say the least,” says Denise. “I’m so much happier than I was before. It’s a wonderful feeling to be proud of yourself, of who you are, and what you’ve accomplished.”

A year and a half after we first ran her story, Denise continues to have more good news. Recently, she achieved her goal of attaining her Journeyperson Electrician status. In December, Denise wrote the Interprovincial Red Seal exam and passed with flying colours. “I didn’t pass the IP my first time,” says Denise, “The exam was so tough…I started shaking so bad as I opened my letter. The other electricians had told me that when you pass the IP exam, Sask Apprenticeship sends you a big envelope. Well there it was – a big envelope. I am an Electrician!!! Woohoo!!”

This achievement was a few years in the making. Journeyperson Certification shows that you have met the standard set by industry for the trade. For Journeyperson Electricians, writing the certification exam requires 7200 hours (about four years) of direct work experience, as well as taking courses while you work. Journeyperson certification is recognized by employers across Canada.

“My options are absolutely endless,” says Denise. “I have what I need to live here in Uranium City and work as a tradeswoman – or a mill operator. This trade/career path opened so many doors for me and kept other doors closed that need to stay closed – I am truly grateful for this.”

Denise achieved many of the hours needed while working at Flyer Electric. “My time with Flyer Electric was invaluable,” says Denise. “I take much pride in the time I spent with the company, not just because I was working as an apprentice, more so because I was working for one of our companies while living here in Uranium City. I got to see McLean Lake and Cigar Lake through Flyer, got to work on some awesome projects, and got to know some amazing people.” Today, Denise has permanent, full-time work as a Mill Operator. “On the same day I received my electrician certificate in the mail, I also got a phone call and email confirming permanent full time position with Cameco at Rabbit Lake – talk about being on top of the world!” She is also putting her skills to work in her home community, and there seems to be many opportunities when it comes in handy. “I was able to help renovate and wire a house for my niece and her three babies,” Denise says, “I have done a couple of Jforms in my community, I’ve done some wiring at my oldest daughter’s home, I’ve gone to fix some wiring at a few of my neighbours homes, one of which was an elderly lady up the street from me whose home is in dire need of electrical repair. I’ve done some electrical work at the school and I got to work with both of my sons and two of my nieces on some electrical as well as work with my youngest daughter who was engaged and interested in learning.”

Denise wanted to acknowledge the help she’s had along the way. “I have so many good role models at work and in the Women in Trades group, plus through all the other awesome apprentices I met during my school. I’ve had support from Construction Careers Regina, Trades North, Northern Career Quest, Flyer Electric, I had extra help from Cameco at the mine site with my schooling, and I’ve met many people who I know are pulling for me.” She is now giving back by sharing her story and role modeling for Women in Trades & Skills Canada, traveling to schools in northern schools to help inspire and encourage other young women to consider a career in the trades. She also volunteered this summer at the Beacon Bible Camp in Uranium City, working alongside an experienced journeyman on a residential project and using her skills to give back to her community.

Denise’s positive attitude, happiness and enthusiasm for life is hard to miss. It’s hard to imagine where she started and where she’s been when speaking to her today, and we are happy to be able to share her story of success and wish her all the best as she continues her journey.

“I am hoping that my story will inspire others to get into the trades and/or just go for their dreams – anything is possible!” says Denise. “I’m living life large in the north and loving it!! Does it get any better?”