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In 2014, after years of individual efforts to promote skilled trades and technology pathways Jamie and Pat joined forces to raise awarenessabout the labour shortage gap internationally and the on-going effort to recruit and retain a future workforce.Understanding the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace Pat and Jamie decided to expand on their efforts in partnership to create an inclusive program to raise awareness to students about apprenticeship and career pathways in skilled trades and technology. In the fall of 2014 Jamie reached out to high school students for a bold and engaging company name and KickAss Careers was launched. With the help of students, educators, parents and Union Communi- cations, Pat and Jamie branded the logo, presentation style and moved forward with many student- inspired ideas to make KickAss Careers a unique and leading-edge program providing engaging presentations, unique experiences and authenticity encouraging young women and men to follow career paths that offer economic security, practical knowledge and lifelong skills. Since then Pat and Jamie have continued to expand the program.



• Founder and primary spokesperson of KickAss Careers
• Co-chair: National Skilled Trades Advisory Committee - Canadian Federal Government • Co-founder of the Workplace Equality Awareness Ribbon (WE Ribbon) Campaign
• Professional Speaker at TA Speakers Management
• Journeyman Ironworker, Boilermaker since 2002
• YWCA Equitable Pathways Advisory Committee member
• Advocate for Skilled Trades and Workplace Equality
• Co Author of All the Kids on Builder Street colouring book series
• Top 20 Under 40 Award for making an impact in the metal trades
• Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Champion Award
• District School Board of Niagara Technology Education Partnership Award
• Hamilton YWCA Women of Distinction Award for being a trailblazer 

• Outreach Specialist for Helmets to Hardhats Canada



Pat Williams began in the trades in 1979 after earning a B.A. degree and becoming a social worker. Her dual interests in advocating for people and mechanical, hands-on work served her well. During her 32 years as a stationary operating engineer, she held many leadership positions in her profession and community. As a retiree, Pat continued working in trades advocacy and became involved with newly forming tradeswomen’s organizations. Pat co-founded the Tradeswomen’s Archive at California State University in Dominquez Hills and currently represents the construction industry on the Los Angeles Disabled Access Appeals Commission.

Pat Williams began in the trades in 1979 after earning a B.A. degree and becoming a social worker. Her dual interests in advocating for people and mechanical, hands-on work served her well. During her 32 years as a stationary operating engineer, she held many leadership positions in her profession and community. As a retiree, Pat continued working in trades advocacy and became involved with newly forming tradeswomen’s organizations. Pat co-founded the Tradeswomen’s Archive at California State University in Dominquez Hills and currently represents the construction industry on the Los Angeles Disabled Access Appeals Commission.




A team of authentic and passionate skilled professionals, journeymen, apprentices or students that are passionate about their careers and want to connect with students to share their own experiences and successes. They are responsible to promote all skilled trades and technology pathways in partnership with KickAss Careers, as employers or volunteers. We take great pride in our abilities to connect with students and excite them about the vast career possibilities in MITC sectors.


The most important part of our work begins when the presentation ends. We want to ensure students have an opportunity to reach out to us at any time. We have an online presence via social media and the web where students can feel safe to continue the conversation by networking with our team of mentors/ambassadors. Those who are pursuing or have achieved successful MITC careers are encourage to pay it forward by sharing their accomplishments with others and through our media platforms.


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Penny Estey is a Red Seal Journeywoman Ironworker/Welder based out of Windsor, Ontario. She began working in construction in her 20’s as a Sider’s Helper and moved her way up to Operations Manager over the course of 7 years, followed by operating her own siding installation business for 2 years. Wanting a change at 32 and eager to learn welding ornamental pieces, she joined the Ironworkers union as an apprentice in 2007 and has worked across Canada on various worksites and projects. In 2015 Penny joined the KickAss team as a mentor and has since attended various events as a speaker, workshop facilitator, and exhibitor.
Penny is active in the betterment of the skilled trades industry, she sits on various committees and is a strong voice in the advocacy and support of equality, diversity, and inclusion.



Courtney Chard is a second-generation pipe welder with U.A. Local 46 and has a Red Seal in both Steamfitting and Welding.
Since starting her apprenticeship in 2002 she has always taken an active role in mentorship. She takes her career seriously and wants to set the best example she can for those who follow.  She is a single mother who believes that being honest about her experiences in the trades will have a positive impact on both men and women.

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Dee has always been interested in the trades, but until grade twelve she had no idea how many trades there were. She started her journey into the trades in grade twelve when she joined a woodworking class, where she was supported by an amazing tech teacher and where she met Jamie McMillan. Jamie kept in touch with and encouraged Dee to pursue the trades after high school. After graduating high school in 2018, Dee went off to Conestoga College for their Powerline-Technician program. After a semester of hard work and many challenges, Dee decided that that trade was not for her. Although the program did not work out for her, she gained valuable knowledge and experience. Dee still supports the program and trade. Dee then took some time off to grow as a person and shadow Jamie to events. She then joined a new program, Electrical Engineering Technician – Industrial (Co-op), where she recently graduated with high distinction. Dee is a big supporter of women in male dominated careers due to her experiences and the experiences of her mother being the first female police officer for the Brantford Police. Dee has made it a life goal to support and help women in these careers and to make the workplace better for all. Dee is just starting her journey in the trades but is very excited to see where it takes her.

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Paige Knowles is a recent high school graduate who now attends a community college for construction management. Although a student, she keeps busy by constantly sharing ideas to show her advocacy for the skilled trades. Paige is adamant about getting the youth interested in these fields, which she proves by publishing original content under her persona, Plumber Paige. Her book, “Plumber Paige - Let’s Replace a Showerhead” provides a look into the type of engaging material that can positively influence children early in their lives. Paige reaches older generations with her social media accounts – all found under the username plumber_paige – and with her youtube channel, Plumber Paige



Emily is a proud mom of two energetic boys. She owns and operates AutoNiche, a family-friendly auto repair shop in Markham. She is a licensed Automotive Service Technician, and Automotive Writer with various publications. She also teaches in the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College. Emily holds a degree from the University of Waterloo in Psychology and Business, and her previous jobs include Psychometrist and Human Resources Associate.
She has appeared on various media including Breakfast Television, Cityline, and the Marilyn Denis Show. She is passionate about her work; together with her staff, AutoNiche’s purpose is to bring better communication and client service to the auto repair experience.



Holding a number of trade licenses in Ontario including multiple electrical licenses, a refrigeration mechanic license and a gas fitter license, she has worked in construction, commercial service, facilities operations, passenger rail, and academia. Coming from income and housing instability in her youth, she feels it's extremely important to share the opportunities presented to her through trades and apprenticeships. Apprenticeship afforded her the ability to earn a sustainableincome, while learning and building her professional credentials as well as continuously increasing her earnings and potential. She is grateful for having been introduced to trades, and continues her academic pursuits, having recently completed an Engineering Technician Diploma for the love of S.T.E.A.M. and the joy of learning something new. She hopes to encourage everyone to try the trades, as she was in the arts prior to discovering her passion for tech and machine, and would never have imagined that she could excel as she did.


Trevor Matthews

Trevor is a Certified Training & Development Professional and a subject matter expert in commercial refrigeration systems, has worked as a technician installing, commissioning, and servicing commercial refrigeration, and HVAC systems. His professional experience and drive for lifelong personal education allows him to offer training and support within the industry. Trevor runs Refrigeration Mentor, a global training and development organization that is dedicated to training, educating, and mentoring refrigeration professionals throughout the industry.

Trevor is a Refrigeration Mechanic and has been in the Refrigeration and HVAC industry since 2004 and has worked with commercial refrigeration and HVAC companies in Canada and overseas.  Trevor completed his Red Seal in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and has also completed the Gas Fitter A Journeyman Certificate from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).


Joanna Osawe

Joanna is the President & CEO of WiRE Women in Renewable Energy. Joanna attended Western University studying Languages, graduating with an Honours BA. Joanna works at ABB in the position of Business Development. Joanna has used her language skills on a focused, 15+ year management career at leading renewable and energy sector companies in Canada and the United States. By carrying complex projects through many stages she has seen firsthand the vital role renewable energy and emerging technologies serve in moving the Canadian, American and global energy mix forward.

Recently, Joanna Osawe, has been appointed to the Federal Sustainable Development Advisory Council. She looks forward to engaging and contributing to the Council's success. The Council is made up of the Canadian public that represent the views of different provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, as well as environmental non-governmental organizations and business and labour organizations.


Laurin Padolina

Laurin went from Broadway to barns and from character heels to working at heights. As a new mom, her major career change from musical theater to welding was born out of necessity. She needed financial stability and a new career that was equally adventurous and fulfilling as the arts had been. In 2018 she attended a 4 month pre-apprenticeship program with The Technical Trade Group offering students multi-exposure to welding and fabricating. Her introduction to welding quickly turned into an apprenticeship and launched her into a dynamic career as a welder. Laurin loves engaging with both youth and mature students as she shares about her journey from theater to blue collar trades. SHe is a member of the AMDSB and TTG speakers bureau and is thrilled to be joining the Kickass Team this year.


Nicholas Tountas

Nick knows the struggles of being a single parent while balancing a career in the skilled trades. Rather than taking over the family restaurant he decided to pursue a careers in the skilled trades. Throughout his apprenticeship Nick enjoyed travelling for work around the province learning his craft in industrial, commercial and residential settings. In 2008 after being awarded sole custody of his 6 year old son Nick decided it was time to re-evaluate his career goals. In an effort to provide a work/life balance for his boy he completed his apprenticeship closer to home. 

Nick is now celebrating 18 years as a Red Seal Sheet Metal Worker. He is currently working as a foreman, health and safety manager and recently enrolled in a labour relations program at a local community college to broaden his career options. 

Nick is  passionate about community engagement, mentorship and enjoys working with youth. He is an active member of various committees to support single fathers, skilled trades and continuing education. He enjoys hosting workshops to educate youth about career opportunities in skilled trades and apprenticeship. He is passionate about connecting skilled trades professionals to youth seeking advice and support  through his online mentorship group. 

Nick is proud to announce that his son recently began his own journey into skilled trades as a 2nd generation Sheet Metal Worker, just like his Dad.


Jessica Duquette 

Jessica was raised on a farm in a mining community in Northern Ontario. As long as she can remember she has been fascinated with the mining industry.

Throughout her high school years she enjoyed hands on technical programs. Prior to graduation she jumped on an opportunity to sign up for a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) specifically for mining. SHSM is a specialized program that allows students to gain credits toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and focus their learning on a specific economic sector at the same time. 

The program proved to be a great experience. Jessica learned that she loved mechanics. The experience ignited her desire to understand how everything worked. She considered automotive and other mechanical programs but none were specific to mining. While looking into her options, she discovered an "Industrial Millwright Mechanic" program and decided to go for it, it was perfect.

Jessica loves being a Millwright apprentice, she has learned so many things. She  works on something new almost everyday and never gets bored. She has realized there is a place for everyone in the skilled trades. Jessica recognizes the importance of working hard and asking questions as she continues her journey to become a "Jack/Jill of All Trades."

She very excited to finish her apprenticeship, become a Red Seal Industrial Millwright Mechanic and share her story to motivate others who are looking for careers success as well. 


Mira Polski

Mira surprised everyone announcing that she was going to be a carpenter at just five years of age. Fast forward fifteen years and she is now a Carpenter’s apprentice!

In high school, Mira took all the woodworking courses available including a dual credit program and co-op in her final year. By the end of high school Mira earned five college credits (welding, masonry, plumbing, electrical and her favourite, carpentry!) and obtained a position with the framing company she met through


In 2021 Mira graduated with distinction from the Renovation Technician program at Conestoga College.

Mira is very passionate about her work. Always eager to share her experiences and pay forward the encouragement she is lucky to have, Mira is extremely excited to join the KickAss Careers team! 



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Kendra Linamaa

Kendra never imagined herself pursuing trades when she was in highschool, she took both the automotive and welding classes through highschool but it had never dawned on her that women could pursue a career in trades. When her welding teacher told her she should become a welder she remembers saying "who would hire a little girl to do a man's job" she had never seen a women in trades before, and didn't yet see the benefit to having diversity in body types and personalities in trades. After highschool she went on to work as a labour at a sign ship, working there she realized she could do a lot of the same work men did by modifying how she did it to suit her body type, from fabrication to applying vinyl wraps it was the constantly moving and busy environment that made her realize she loves working in a shop. That summer she applied for millwright at Cambrian College after hearing that it was the jack of all trades. She loved college, the teachers, her peers and especially the competitive environment her fellow students created. After her first year at Cambrian Kendra applied for a bursary through Cambrian and won, she was thrilled that this bursary also came with the opportunity to start her apprenticeship at City welding as a millwright. This generosity encouraged her to take her first step as a public speaker, and she spoke delivered a thank you speech to the many donnors and bursary recipients. She worked full time all summer and continued to work at city welding part time at city welding and cambrian college during her final school year. Afterwards she confused to speak on behalf of cambrian college as a women in trades representatives and went on to continue her apprenticeship at Vale, starting with a Co-op at North mine, and then being signed as an apprentice and working at the Copper cliff nickel refinery, and now Coleman Mine. She hopes to try and see as much as Vale has to offer. 














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