Path to success powered by YouthBuild

October 23, 2017

Tulane Chippeway and Justin Pranteau onsite with Brightwater at its Senior Living of Tuxedo build


Last June, Mike O’Regan was busy trying to drum up apprenticeship carpenters to help build a seniors’ complex in south Winnipeg, when he got a call from YouthBuild asking him if he’d come and speak to students before graduation. Having spoken to groups about opportunities in construction in the past, the veteran construction manager agreed. What began as an opportunity to share his knowledge quickly became one that solved his staffing issue as well.

“They asked if I’d hire any of the students in their Level 1 Carpentry program,” recalls O’Regan, who works for Alder Construction Management, which is a division of Oregon-based Brightwater Senior Living. “And I think I pretty much took the whole class.”

During the course of the summer, the students joined O’Regan on a new Brightwater build in the Seasons of Tuxedo development off of Sterling Lyon Parkway. Based on past experience, seeing students come to a job site, only to wither as the weeks and the duties rolled on, O’Regan was pleasantly surprised to say that by the end of the job he still had on a handful of students from the original 7 or so he employed from YouthBuild.

“They did a good job for the most part and it was a good experience for me,” says O’Regan, who works on projects throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan. “Most of these students seemed dedicated to learning.”

With the completion of work, all but two of O’Regan’s hires from the YouthBuild group—Justin Pranteau and Tulane Chippeway—had to pursue new opportunities. For this pair, however, the next phase with Brightwater was already in motion and it would take them west to Saskatchewan to work on a new seniors’ community in Regina. We caught up with the guys on the road, to ask them about their YouthBuild experience and where it’s helped to take them since.

For Justin Pranteau, YouthBuild became an opportunity to change his life. Tired of selling crack and rolling with gangs in Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood, he immersed himself in this learning opportunity and hasn’t looked back since.

“I gave up everything to be where I am today and it was worth it,” says Pranteau, who along with Chippeway will live and work in Saskatchewan for the next 18 months. “If I could go back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. [YouthBuild] works out for kids like me trying to get out of poverty. We try that much harder to get the life we want. I didn’t want my old life anymore so I went to school. I started at YouthBuild two years ago as a Grade 12 student and ever since then they’ve helped out a lot with barriers, and helping us get experience. We even had fun while we were there!”

Both Pranteau and Chippeway hope to stay on with Brightwater and continue to gain more experience so they can get the next level of their carpentry apprenticeship; Chippeway has his long-term sights set on becoming a Red Seal and his YouthBuild experience has given him the confidence to pursue that journey.

“Path to success powered by YouthBuild!,” says Chippeway.

From his perspective, O’Regan sees the guys fitting in well with the organization and credits YouthBuild with helping all its graduates find the confidence and desire they need to excel as tradespeople.

“We can train anybody to do anything,” says O’Regan. “But they need to come to the workplace with a focus.”

With a series of new builds in Winnipeg slated for 2018, O’Regan knows exactly where he’ll be turning for reliable workers.

“My next project I’ll be in to see YouthBuild,” he says.

Justin at the 2017 MITT YouthBuild Graduation Dinner with his former carpentry instructor, Pat Macklem

Tulane, speaking to CTV News about MITT YouthBuild’s partnership with the Canada Summer Games

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