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Outside the Lines: Plans underway for third ‘Tradeswomen of New Brunswick’ colouring book

Saint John, New Brunswick — A New Brunswick-based non-profit has developed an exciting new way to introduce young girls to the skilled trades industry through a colouring book series that features tradeswomen on the job.

The first two editions of the “Tradeswomen of New Brunswick” are the results of efforts from New Boots: Progressing Women in Trades, a part of the non-profit MAP Strategic Workforce Services, according to the CBC.

“I’m super proud of my trade and what I’ve accomplished,” said Liz Sandwith, a refrigeration and air conditioning technician, and featured tradesperson in the 2020 debut edition of the book.

“I really think it helps young children, particularly young girls, if they can see themselves represented in skilled trades, it might open a door in their minds to the possibilities they hadn’t considered.”

The first edition of the colouring book sold out of its first 500 copies within a week of its release in 2020, and plans for a 2022 edition of the book are already underway.

The colouring books are a direct response to low rates of female participation in the skilled trades sector, with New Brunswick representing the least amount of tradeswomen nationally, making up only 4.5 percent of the province’s skilled workforce.

According to the CBC, Sandwith was the first woman in New Brunswick’s history to earn a Red Seal certification in the field of refrigeration and air conditioning; a path she first set out on at the age of 37.

Sandwith says she feels that had she had these colouring books when she was young, she may well have found her passion for the trades much earlier in life.

“You just didn’t see it out there. You didn’t see women working in trades,” she said.

Editions of the 2020 and 2021 colouring books have been restocked in time for this holiday season, according to Sandwith.

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