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New Brunswick student captures silver at Skills Canada for workplace safety

When Grade 12 student Chanel Brideau was assigned a presentation topic for the Skills Canada competition on workplace safety, she found she had an advantage. 

The student at Polyvalente W.A. Losier in Tracadie-Sheila was asked to do a hazard assessment on a deli.

“That worked really well for me because I actually work in a deli,” she said. “It was perfect.”

Brideau, who qualified in April during a provincial Skills Canada competition in workplace safety, headed to Saskatoon, Sask., in late May and was one of four New Brunswick students to medal, capturing the silver.

The 21st annual competition saw New Brunswick represented in more than 30 competition areas, including workplace safety, electrical installation, hairstyling and aesthetics and website development.

Chanel Brideau“I loved it so much,” said the 18-year-old. “It was a lot more stressful at the national level than at the provincial. I was a lot more nervous, but I would not change a thing. My experience was amazing, and  I made a lot of new friends.”

About 500 students and apprentices from across Canada competed at the Skills Canada National Competition, held annually to promote skilled trades and technology as career options to Canadian youth.

Brideau qualified nationally when she won first place in the workplace safety category at the provincial competition, an event she entered at the encouragement of a high school teacher.

“I’m not a very manual person,” she said. “I could never enter in the electricity or carpentry category. That’s not my thing. But workplace safety interested me.”

For the past year, Brideau has worked part time in a deli at a local grocery store. So she was already aware of the importance of workplace safety.

Assigned a deli scenario as her presentation topic, she already knew some of its workplace hazards. She created four poster boards for her 10-minute occupational health and safety (OHS) presentation, describing situations that could be dangerous – cutting meat, shelving boxes onto shelves, climbing a ladder in the storeroom and cleaning the work area, for example.

The presentation was just one part of the competition.

She also had to complete a hazard assessment of a mock workplace – a house under construction – identifying its hazards as well as three safe work practices and the potential injury being prevented. The last component of the competition involved researching an assigned topic and correctly answering OHS questions. Her topic was workplace violence.

“Chanel did an excellent job of representing New Brunswick at the national competition, and I am very proud of her accomplishment,” said Jessica Brodie, WorkSafeNB’s youth programs co-ordinator.

“To me, Chanel winning silver is not only an honour for New Brunswick, but it also shows how, armed with occupational health and safety knowledge, youth can be ambassadors for creating a safety culture among our future generations of workers."

Brideau, who will be pursuing a degree in modern languages, culture and literature at Mount Allison University in September, said competing both at the provincial and national level increased her self-confidence and self-esteem.

It also reinforced her on-the-job training on how to stay safe at her deli job.

“Now I realize what I should be doing,” she said.

New Brunswick will host the 22nd Skills Canada National Competition in Moncton next year. This will be the first time that the national skills competition will be hosted in the province.

Congratulations Chanel!

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