Lenelle Davis thought an injury cost her a dream job she’d been in training for since childhood.
The Nakusp resident’s career as an electrician had only been underway for three years when in 2018 she tore a ligament on a residential job due to a faulty tool. It was a painful setback, and one she thought had ended her life in the trades.
Davis worked odd jobs for the following years until last fall when, while working at a bar, she found out a customer was an electrician. She’d done physiotherapy and wondered if the customer might apprentice her part time to test the wrist.
The wrist, it turned out, was ready to get back on the job. Davis returned to school at Selkirk College and this year has begun working as an electrician again on industrial sites.
“I feel like it’s just given me my independence and freedom again.”
Davis was honoured Monday as the latest recipient of the annual Bev LaPointe Memorial Scholarship for Women in Trades.
LaPointe, who passed away in 2014, was a former City of Nelson employee and union president who in the 1990s lodged a human rights complaint that established new sexual harassment policy banning pornography from workplaces.
The $3,000 bursary is presented by Kootenay Career Development Services (KCDS) and LaPointe’s former partner Loreli Dawson.
Applying for the scholarship requires applicants to write an essay. KCDS executive director Jocelyn Carver said Davis’s writing showed passion and a resiliency for returning to her trade following the wrist injury.
“It honestly kind of had us hardboiled employment types feeling pretty teary about the combination of adaptability and perseverance that she demonstrated.”
The Davis family has a long history in the trades.
Kipp Inkster, Davis’s grandfather, helped build several local dams, and her uncle is an ironworker. At home, Davis’s father Peter still works as a heavy duty mechanic while her mother Krystal has retired after decades in highway construction.
Krystal Davis, who was on hand for the award’s presentation, said Lenelle grew up interested in her parent’s work.
“She would get up at the crack of dawn and go to work with her dad when we were visiting him to push the button and load the trucks. Her little nose would start twitching as we were coming down the road and she could smell the oil from the paver.”
Lenelle Davis had initially opted to become a hair stylist before changing her mind at 24 and going into the trades.
“I’ve always loved being in the trades more. I always took electronics in school. I took shop in school, metal, carpentry, that kind of thing. It was strange for me to become a hair stylist at the beginning. Everyone thought it made more sense when I decided to become an electrician.”
One day after receiving the award, the 32-year-old was excited for a trip to Elkford where she was to begin her first job with Teck. Next March she’ll return to Selkirk College for her third year in the electrical program.
For years it felt as though she was searching for a new passion. Returning to her original calling, it turned out, was the right answer all along.
“I like thinking and being challenged on a daily basis. So there’s just so many different options and avenues that you can go down as well with being electrical.”