MacPhee Youth Camp links skilled trades to the arts

The MacPhee Youth Camp, held from July 4-14 at NSCC Akerley Campus, was a remarkable program that brought together the skilled trades and artistic expression. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration - Skills and Learning Branch, the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning, and the Nova Scotia Community College, seventeen enthusiastic youth and their chaperones got the chance to immerse themselves in the carpenter, welder, cook, and various construction trades.

During the first two days of the camp, youth participated in faculty-led carpenter activities at NSCC Akerley Campus. Led by a certified NSCC instructor, participants delved into a variety of tools and equipment and learned to measure, cut, saw, join and assemble, while working on a number of small projects. 

On day three, the camp visited the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council Trades Exhibition Hall, a unique career awareness facility that showcases occupations in the Industrial-Commercial-Institutional (ICI) construction sector. Here, youth spoke to skilled trades professionals in the construction sector and completed hands-on demonstrations at interactive booths representing ten different construction trades, including bricklayer, plumber, electrician, insulator, and sheet metal worker.

The second week of the camp saw youth returning to NSCC Akerley to experience the cook and welder trades. They explored kitchen essentials and learned about the artistry behind cooking techniques, and on July 12 and 13, under the guidance of certified welders, learned about the different equipment used for various welding processes. The group gained valuable hands-on experience with different welding and cutting techniques, culminating in the creation of their own metal tags.

The highly successful camp wrapped up in a closing ceremony which featured an educational panel session with panelists Chad Carrington, RSE carpenter; Donna MacGillivray, Manager, Youth & Equity Programs at NSAA; Augy Jones, Principal at NSCC Akerley Campus; and moderator Sarah Gillis, Executive Lead, Youth Initiatives at the Learning and Skills Branch. Youth, parents, and guardians in attendance were able to hear about the panel’s professional journey and why the skilled trades, seldom thought of as an artistic form, had strong links to the arts. 

“We’re delighted to have worked with our partners on this exciting new, one-of-a-kind initiative,” said Donna MacGillivray, Manager, Youth & Equity Programs at NSAA. “The camp provided an opportunity for youth to explore a different perspective on the skilled trades. Trades professionals can also be accomplished artists. Whether it’s an ornamental ironwork in a building foyer, an intricate wood carving on a staircase, or restoration stonework of a historical building, there are many forms of artistic expression in the skilled trades. We’re thrilled to have brought this compelling context to the forefront with this unique youth camp.”

"The MacPhee Centre Tech Arts camp is testament to how well things work out when different committed players come together to work toward a single goal," said Sharon Ishimwe, Executive Director at the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning. "Our goal was to expose our extremely talented and mostly art-leaning youth to the trades. The result is youth who have not only been exposed to several trades but are also interested in learning more and potentially pursuing careers in these fields. All this was made possible through the generous contributions of our partners; NSCC Akerley, Nova Scotia Department of Labour Skills and Immigration, and Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency."


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The MacPhee Centre empowers youth between the ages of 12-19 by connecting passion with purpose through the arts. It helps youth in the development of confidence, lifelong learning skills, an appreciation for the value in giving back to the community, and increased potential for employment in our communities. To find out more about the Centre, visit: