News and Events
MHPS recognizes MHC instructor with Be the Change Award
December 20, 2022
Story courtesy of Medicine Hat Police Service
On International Women’s Day the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) pledged to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of individuals in the community (Medicine Hat & surrounding area) who lead, inspire, and motivate women and work to break the bias towards advancing gender equity. Each month the MHPS, in partnership with the Medicine Hat Police Association, selects a local individual(s) to highlight with the “Be The Change” award, and celebrate the achievements of these individuals who are catalysts for change in our community.
This month, Amanda Hennessey was chosen as the recipient of the MHPS “Be the Change Award” in recognition of her passion and pursuit of advancing women in the trades industry. As a Master Electrician, instructor at the Medicine Hat College (MHC), and the MHC Electrical Department Coordinator, Amanda appreciates the importance of supporting diversity in a traditionally male dominated industry. She is one of several instructors involved in the Women in Trades program at the MHC, a 16-week program that provides an introduction and overview of carpentry, plumbing welding, and electrical trades for women and non-binary individuals. The program provides participants with a safe space to explore the various trades as a potential career and forge relationships with other women in the industry.
When asked what advice she would give a woman considering a career in the trades, Amanda says simply “to realize that it is totally possible. There is a common misconception that brute strength is required to get the job done, but she encourages everyone to open their minds to the concept that with a basic understanding of physics and the right tools to do the job, anyone can be strong.” Despite the challenges faced by women, she encourages them to consider a career in the trades as it is extremely rewarding and at the end of the day you have tangible and visible evidence of a job well done.
Amanda credits her father with being the first to support her interests and remembers how she loved helping him with chores around the house when she was growing up. It wasn’t until she was in school that she began to recognize there were barriers she would have to overcome to pursue her career interests.
In Alberta in 2021, only 7.8% of trades, transport and equipment operators were women, Hennessey says “often the biggest hurdle for women in trades industry is trying to get someone to hire you.” She knows this firsthand, as the first job she applied for at an appliance repair shop she was immediately rejected by the male business owner and told that she couldn’t do the job, solely because she was a woman. Thankfully, she didn’t let this stand in her way, and went on to have a successful career spanning almost 20 years. A message that she shares with all her students, regardless of if they are male or female, is that to treat people based on their merit. In her classroom she encourages students to discuss their concerns and share past experiences to better prepare them for working in an environment with diversified team members.
Amanda’s dedication goes even beyond her teaching. In 2014 she started her own business, ARH Electric, after being approached by a female co-worker who asked for help with an issue in her home. The woman shared that she had previously hired another company but had a negative experience with the repair technician and was unable to have the job completed. She had lived for over a year without a functioning clothes drier out of fear of having another male technician come into her home. When working with clients, Amanda tries to share some of her expertise so to empower them with the knowledge and practical skills that will help them be more self sufficient and have the confidence to complete some minor repairs on their own.
When not instructing, Amanda is also the President of the Bunny Run Rabbit Rescue. An organization that works to provide permanent homes for domestic rabbits that have been abandoned. She fosters and rehabilitates several rabbits in her home while waiting for them to be adopted.
Amanda was also a member of the Women in Construction Committee before it disbanded in early 2020. Their mandate was to promote a non-biased workplace in the construction industry and actively engage both men and women through opportunities that supported and increased the advancement of professional, skilled women in the community. Amanda embodies the true meaning behind this award. Her support and work to normalize women in the trades is helping to break down barriers for the future generations of tradeswomen. We thank her for her continued efforts to lead, inspire, motivate, and break the bias!