Jordan Harper knows exactly where he was and what he was looking at when he first heard about Seaspan. While eating lunch with a friend at Lonsdale Quay, he saw a beautiful yacht tied up alongside. It belonged to Seaspan Chairman, Kyle Washington; and it sparked the conversation that would change his life. “My friend told me who it belonged to and all about the company. He said that it was pretty hard to get a job at Seaspan because everyone wants to work there, that getting an apprenticeship there is like winning the lottery.”
At that time, Jordan was working for a roofing company where he was being put in dangerous situations on a routine basis. He was married, with a daughter and another child on the way. Financially, they were just getting by.
He left that lunch with a vision. “I went home and did a bit of homework, researching the company. That’s when I came across the information about the National Shipbuilding Strategy and saw what it would mean for Seaspan. I pretty much decided then and there that I was going to end up there! Of course,” he laughs, “the next thought was ‘I’m going to need to get into a trade.'” Easier said than done for a young father in a single income household. But Jordan is motivated and tenacious, and he now had a clear goal.
Jordan’s brother is the one who told him about ACCESS, the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society. Jordan, a Status Cree Indian of the Peguis First Nation, got in touch with ACCESS in 2014. The organization pointed him in the right direction, told him what he had to do to apply for sponsorship, and facilitated the transition to working in the trades. It seemed a little surreal at first. Jordan’s wife was especially hesitant. “She could hardly believe that I would be able to continue to support the family and go to school.”
The help provided by ACCESS was not just financial. Jordan was soon enrolled in a course designed to prepare him for the BCIT environment, something that he describes as essential for a person who struggled with math in high school, and who wanted to get into metal fabrication. “For a fabricator, it’s all math and blueprints! ACCESS really laid the foundation, preparing us for BCIT. We did so much math! Every day!” It paid off. When Jordan started at BCIT, he realized how well ACCESS had prepared him. He was comfortable and knew what he was doing.
“Of course, as soon as I finished my Foundations Level 1, I applied to Seaspan. Seven months later, I got the job! Then, wouldn’t you know it, on the first day of orientation, my wife went into labour. I was so nervous, but my supervisor at the time was awesome about it.” Jordan says he knew then how family-oriented his new employer was.
Today, Jordan is a father of three, awaiting confirmation of his Red Seal certification in Metal Fabrication from Seaspan. He loves his job. “In shipbuilding, every day is different and I love that variety. I worked on all three of the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels, and I am now working on the Joint Support Ship. And at Seaspan, if it’s not safe, you’re not doing it. That’s very important to me because I need to come home in one piece every day – so I can split myself in four after I get there,” he laughs. “My wife and I are both very thankful for ACCESS and Seaspan. They changed our lives completely.”