Cree electrician hopes her story energizes other women to join the trades

A little over a year ago, Nikki Muswaggon had no idea what was involved with wiring a house or how to read the building code.

Today she is a certified electrician heading to her home community in Manitoba to wire up the new health center being built this summer.

“I decided to go into electrical work because I’m really good with my hands,” Muswaggon tells APTN News. “Before I went to university I really didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time. I was going to go into medicine to become a doctor to work at the health center.  But I realized when I was in school that really wasn’t what I wanted to do.

“I was more of a hands on person while I was in university that’s what I learned. I thought about what trade I wanted to go into, I thought why not?”

Muswaggon is from Cross Lake First Nation – a Cree community located about 520 km north of Winnipeg along the Nelson River with a population of 6,000.

Muswaggon, along with her younger brother Megwan, recently completed the Electrical Applications program at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology.

The year long course teaches student electrical health and safety, assembly and analysis of circuits.

The siblings landed their first project together at the health centre.

The course was male dominated – only four female students in a class of 45.

She said they formed a special bond during their time together.

“The women, we really had to prove ourselves, that we were capable of being in the program.” Muswaggon said.

Muswaggon is looking forward to working on the health centre and a chance for her to return home and help build the community.

She hopes to be an inspiration to any other women who think being an electrician or entering any trade is out of reach.

“It’s nothing I’ve known any other women in Cross Lake to do. I thought that me going for it would be a stepping stone for other women to go into it. Face your fears, nothing is ever impossible as long as you put your mind to it.”

Muswaggon will be back in the fall to talk to Melissa Ridgen and InFocus about her new career and how women can enter a trade and start a new, worthwhile career.

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