Student Day, and the Indigenous Opportunities in Nuclear Open House, held on Oct. 26, involved a tour of the Darlington Refurbishment Mock-up and Training Facility, as well as opportunities for young people to meet and ask questions of a variety of skilled trades people, unions, post-secondary institutions and OPG employees. Approximately 400 students and volunteers took part in the day.
“I volunteered because it’s important to encourage young people to join a trade or technical profession, especially young women,” said Hunter, a Hydroelectric Operating Technician Trainee at the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station (GS) in Niagara Falls. “Unfortunately, technical career paths for women are often pushed aside as an option.”
In forging her own career, Hunter took inspiration from her mother, Janice Robertson Taylor, a Training Officer for the Darlington Refurbishment project.
“I first applied to be a Nuclear Operator in 1980, but back then they didn’t hire women so I did other things after college,” said Janice.
Undeterred, Janice worked part-time on helicopters as an Aero-engine Technician in the Air Reserve at CFB Downsview and later as a records clerk for Ontario Hydro at Pickering Nuclear GS before she began to learn about station systems in anticipation of more women being hired on as operators.
In 1987, the elder Taylor joined a class of Operators in Training at Pickering, which included one of the first female trainees for the station.
Nearing the end of high school, Hunter, like her mother, was interested in pursuing a career in a technical field. Discouraged by one of her high school teachers, she instead pursued a post-secondary education at Algonquin College. After a year, she transferred into the Electrical Engineering Technician program at Loyalist College in Belleville, which offered both in-class and hands-on practical training.
After graduating, Hunter took a position at Pickering Nuclear as a Radiation Safety Technician working on unit outages, daily inspections and special projects, an opportunity that led to her current career path as a hydroelectric operator.
“To young women who are contemplating a career in a technical field or as a skilled trade, the first thing I would say is don’t listen to anyone telling you it’s not suitable for you,” said Hunter.
“If you have an interest in creating or building, and enjoy working with your hands I would suggest you try a technical program or an apprenticeship.”