Natalie and Karly

Natalie and Karly


If you’ve read the newest edition of VIU Magazine, you’ll know that our Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology is working to support more women entering the trades. Carpentry students Natalie Raffeiner and Karly Atkinson are excited about their program, and agree that the industry needs more women.

“It’s nice to have women on the job site,” says Natalie. “Even if you work with a crew of friendly, supportive guys, being the only female on the job site can get lonely. We need the world to know we’re here, and we know what we’re doing. We need to support other women.”

As the single mother of a seven-year-old son, it’s important to Natalie to show him a strong female role model who is capable of fixing things with her hands, and teaching him skills.

“It’s empowering to know how to fix things. In the future I plan on mentoring other women and teaching them the basics of carpentry,” Natalie says.

Karly fell in love with carpentry in high school, but left it behind for a long time. “I took it back up at VIU and I’m so excited. I love VIU and this campus. I’ve been really happy to take my courses here. There is a good mix of people in the program, and the hands-on training you get from building a house is a great experience,” she said.

Karly and Natalie came to VIU to take the Carpentry Foundation program, and out of 16 students, they Natalie and Karly were two of the three who continued with past the foundation program. Both are pleased with the support they’ve received from their instructors.

 “I can come to my instructors for feedback on jobs I’m doing outside of class,” says Karly. “VIU instructors really want to see you succeed. You really feel like you matter here.”