On March 6, during the “Inspire Inclusion in the NS Skilled Trades” event, the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency (NSAA) recognized six remarkable women who have fearlessly challenged systemic barriers to succeed in their fields and advocate for gender equity in the skilled trades.

On this International Women’s Day, their stories of resilience, determination, and triumph serve as an inspiration to us all.

Lori Rogers has been a longstanding Role Model with Techsploration and has volunteered on their Program Advisory Committee for more than a decade. Lori is a graduate of Dalhousie University and has a Carpentry Diploma from Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). She spent five years facilitating the Building Futures for Youth program at the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, where she engaged high school youth to explore careers in the construction sector. Lori is passionate about educating, making connections, and supporting people explore careers, especially youth and women. She was a member of NSAA’s Women in Construction Advisory Committee and a Board Member of LakeCity Works. Today, Lori works as a recruiter with Armour Transportation Systems and continues to promote the value of designated skilled trades, including Truck and Transport Mechanic, to women and youth.

Rhonda Frigault was the second woman to be certified as a Red Seal plumber in Nova Scotia. She has been a Plumbing Instructor at NSCC since 2012 and she is an avid volunteer. Rhonda volunteers at Skills Canada-Nova Scotia as a coach and a committee member. She is currently Chair of the Provincial Technical Committee and a member of the National Technical Committee. Rhonda has also been a Techsploration Role Model and Program Advisory Committee member for over a decade. She has facilitated workshops for Women Unlimited and now coaches other role models on how to be effective mentors.

Kelli Gordon-Skinner is skilled at developing industry relationships across multiple sectors and has worked with organizations to create measurable and sustainable change for women working in trades. She has been a strong advocate for gender equity and has worked relentlessly to identify and dismantle systemic barriers for women working in the skilled trades. In 2018, she started the “Nova Scotia Women in Trades Network” Facebook group where tradeswomen could connect, share opportunities, and celebrate achievements. Today, the group has over 1,000 members. Kelli works as the Manager of Vendor Relations at Freshco, a certified diverse, LGBTQ2+  , woman-owned business that is working to build an inclusive supply chain, broadening opportunities for under-represented businesses.

Natalie Robichaud is a Red Seal certified Construction Electrician. She is a French Acadian from Meteghan and has eight years of experience in residential, commercial, and marine electrical services. She recently started her own business, On the Go Electric, within a week of being laid off from her previous employment. Natalie’s flourishing  business serves her community and surrounding areas in the South Shore, and she is now looking forward to being able to hire and support other women. Natalie loves the outdoors and is a highly skilled trades professional, an exceptional skillset which led her to build her own home!

Antonia Bown is a Red Seal certified Welder with over seven years of experience in her trade. She has been a welder at Irving Shipbuilding since 2017, where she is also a union shop steward and a member of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Commission. She got into the welder trade by following in her brother’s footsteps, who was training to be a metal fabricator, and by getting involved with Women Unlimited. Antonia’s greatest satisfaction from being a welder is the instant gratification she gets from a job well done. She is an advocate for women working in the skilled trades and her advice to other women is not to be afraid to speak up.

Denise Watters is a Red Seal certified Welder. She was introduced to the trade through the Women Unlimited program in 2015 and by fall that same year she was enrolled at NSCC’s 2-year Diploma. While studying at NSCC, she earned the Student Association President Award for making an impact on the student quality of life and was also a recipient of the Board of Governors’ Award. Denise began her career at Irving Shipbuilding in 2017 as an apprentice, and in 2021 she achieved her RSE   certification. A single mother of five, Denise is also a union shop steward and Chair of the Aboriginal Workers of Colour Committee.


Michelle Bussey, Kelli Gordon-Skinner, Rhonda Frigault, Lori Rogers, Denise Watters, Antonia Bown, Natalie Robichaud, Lovessa Johnson, and Ellen Oldford

Image L-R: Michelle Bussey (CEO, NSAA), Kelli Gordon-Skinner, Rhonda Frigault, Lori Rogers, Denise Watters, Antonia Bown, Natalie Robichaud, Lovessa Johnson (Manager, Special Initiatives, NSAA), Ellen Oldford (Program Specialist, NSAA).