Welcome to our new Q&A series, where we interview staff, trainees, and community partners for a deeper look into Building Up’s journey. This week, we interviewed Kaedon Shore, our Health and Safety Representative.
After working at the Honda Plant in Ontario, Kaedon wanted to expand upon his mechanics background and learn more about construction trades. He was accepted into and completed Building Up’s pre-apprenticeship program, where the team recognized his knack for safety on-site, which led to his Health & Safety Representative role. Kaedon is an advocate for Trans and LGBTQ+2S rights and has plans to develop program training around this specific experience for our participants in the future.
Tell me about yourself!
My name is Kaedon Shore. I identify as female to male transgender and I’ve been on testosterone for eight months now.
How did you find out about Building Up?
In 2018, I met my girlfriend and moved to Toronto with her. I did not have much on my resume, so I signed up with this employment company. They said they had a presentation with Building Up, and that could be somewhere I could flourish. I went to the orientation and I signed the papers right then and there- I have basically been here since that day.
What is your role at Building Up?
I’m the representative for the Joint Health and Safety committee, which covers anything Health and Safety related to all worksites. From PPE to ensuring that people have any concerns on site are heard and dealt with immediately, to making sure that we are following regulations. Even making sure that what we are doing is to code with the Ontario Acts and Regulations. That is basically what my job looks like day to day.
How did you move from the program to this position?
The Joint Health and Safety Committee is always employee voted. People in the cohort would write a little paragraph explaining why they would be a good fit. How can they enhance the health and safety on sites? From there, everybody makes their vote.
I was the only one that had a whole novel on why it was something I wanted to do. I used to do ergonomic assessment at Honda, and it had fueled my fire for health and safety. I would always be that one person saying, “you don’t have your safety glasses on and you’re trying to use a circular saw, let’s put that down.” When we were out at events, I was telling people information that they didn’t know, and I always felt better knowing a person would go away knowing something that could protect them.
What does your average day look like?
Usually, I run week-to-week. Knowing how many sites are running within general labor and general contracting divisions, going to those sites, and doing a safety check. Once I’m there, I’m making sure that people are wearing steel toe boots, wearing safety glasses, wearing masks. If they are wearing gloves, are they sanitizing their gloves, and are they following the procedures in which we have in place. I’m also ensuring that our workers are safe and listening to their concerns. It’s better to go to the workers that are dealing with it all the time. I tell everybody, any issue you have you can call me at the start of shift or after shift. Come to me, and say “Hey Kaedon, I have an issue.” Regardless of if I feel negative or positive about it, I make sure that what they need to be heard is heard and fixed in some way.
What is your favorite part about working at Building Up?
When I was young and realizing I am transgender, it hindered me a lot. At Building Up, I was made to feel like it was not an issue and that I was accepted. There were not many people that came through Building Up who openly identified as transgender. I feel proud to be part of a company that is accepting of the gay community. Knowing I could be the simple push for somebody else coming through orientation who identifies as transgender but feels uncomfortable because the other managers don’t identify as gay or non-binary. I hope to help the person I used to be, by letting them know they are needed and wanted. Letting them know that there is no one who is going to belittle you, nobody is going to make you feel down. That gave me the big push to want to keep going.
Are there any moments that stood out?
When I first started working here, there was a men’s bathroom, a woman’s bathroom, and a handicapped bathroom. The whole bathroom situation became a task, and I would deal with feeling uncomfortable, and not wanting to get yelled at or looked at. Once all-gender bathrooms started coming into effect, they were implemented here. That created a feeling of comfortableness and I felt like I could “live at work.”
Is any advice you give to trainees who are about to enter the program?
You will have days where you’re in a crappy mood, you don’t want to do anything, and you just cannot be bothered. It is okay to feel that way coming in. Nobody will tell you that you are wrong for feeling that way. Everybody you meet at Building Up, all the managers, Sarah, Ashley, they all want to know is how they can help. They don’t want you to sit there, boiling and upset! There are always ways we can help, more than training and job opportunities. Once you’re graduated, Building Up doesn’t say, “okay, bye!” It is not like that at all, we always try and keep in contact. We check up on our graduates and make sure that they’re okay. If there is anything else that they need help with, we help them.