Journey workers and apprentices from the Kamloops, British Columbia, Local 993 Women's Committee traveled roughly 14 hours to perform a much-needed electrical retrofit at a women's safe house in the northwest town of Kitimat.

Whether it's making comfort cases for sexual assault survivors or forming an all-female crew to upgrade a women's safe house, there may be nothing the Kamloops, British Columbia, Local 993 Women's Committee wouldn't do for its community — even if that community is 1,200 kilometers away."I feel fortunate to have such great support from our local, as well as our signatory contractors and the

An IBEW member at work at a shelter in northwest British Columbia, a project of the Local 993 Women’s Committee.

"I feel fortunate to have such great support from our local, as well as our signatory contractors and the communities within our jurisdiction," Local 993 Assistant Business Manager Mollie Routledge said. "Without them, we would not be able to go out and assist in the forgotten areas where help is needed."

In 2019, the women's committee set out to collect 50 comfort cases, which include personal hygiene items and a new set of clothing, because a survivor's original clothes are often damaged or being used as evidence. But with help from signatories like Houle Electric, Vancouver Local 213, Victoria Local 230, the Western Joint Electrical Training Society and others in the labor community, they ended up with about 100 cases, which they delivered to different northern Canada communities.

They haven't stopped helping since. Committee members have been involved in a number of events, like the Shoe Memorial to honor the memory of women killed by violence; Red Dress Day, which raises awareness of the ongoing crisis of violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people; and Coldest Night of the Year, which helps those who are homeless.

"We like to pick the stuff that's near and dear to us," said Tammy Schnieder, a member of Local 993's Women's Committee. "Our goal is to make a positive impact wherever we can."

Schnieder and others were recently part of an all-women crew that did electrical upgrades for a women's safe house in the northwest British Columbia town of Kitimat. The drive up took them about 14 hours.

"It is quite empowering to have an all-women electrical crew on a project like that," Routledge said.

The crew, made up of journey worers as well as apprentices, did an electrical retrofit, upgrading receptacles, switches and lights. Local contractor WSG Energy Services pitched in with equipment like ladders, emergency lighting and battery drills. They, along with fellow area contractors TLT and Flour, even made sure the women had coffee and lunches, Routledge said.

"I think it's great that Local 993 was able to help make a safe environment for these women," Schnieder said. "It shows that women in the trades are powerful and we can accomplish a lot."

In addition to the upgrade, the women's committee sold T-shirts — so many, in fact, that they had to place a second order. Combined with the materials they were able to have donated, the sisters had enough funds left over to start on their next project of creating starter packages, which they plan to distribute next year. The packages will be given to women when they leave the safe house and include household items for the kitchen and bathroom and for cleaning, Routledge said.

"A lot of times these women have nothing. This will help make it a little easier as they venture out on their own again," she said