Shelsea Hill fell in love with the water at young age spending most of her summer days as a child swimming in the family pool with her siblings. She attended Jamieson Elementary School in Six Nations, where she was first introduced to the concept of recreational diving by her second-grade teacher Mrs Joseph.
“She was an avid diver. I remember her telling us stories about her diving adventures, and since then I’ve always wanted to dive.”
Although she was intrigued by diving, Hill’s first post-secondary experience was unrelated. She initially pursued Computer Science at Mohawk College but upon completion of the two-year diploma program, realized this was not her passion. To avoid being idle, she began working in the fast-food industry.
Growing up in Six Nations, Hill was already familiar with GREAT and reached out to pursue a more fulfilling career in the skilled trades. She was approved for funding by GREAT to enroll in the former WRAP and Women in Welding Program facilitated by Ogwehoweh Skills and Trades Training Centre (OSTTC).
Upon completing the two programs, her career in the skilled trades began welding for Miska Trailer Factory in Hamilton full-time. Although she enjoyed this work, it did not provide the underwater experience that she was passionate about. For her birthday in 2015, she decided to attain her first diving certificate. Around the same time, Shelsea began seeing photos of underwater welders across social media and was hearing nothing but good things from peers about life in British Columbia.
Eager to move to the West Coast, Hill was hesitant,
“I had never even been outside of Ontario, so moving all the way to British Columbia was a massive move for me.”
Finally, Shelsea took a leap of faith and made the decision to move. She instantly fell in love with the beauty of the province. Hill attended North Island College to complete an additional welding certificate. She then decided to combine her skilled trade and diving experience with her love for the water and pursued a full-time career in commercial diving.
Currently, Hill is residing on Vancouver Island, where she is employed full-time as a Commercial Diver for Allpen Diving. She primarily works in the fish farms doing net inspection, farm support, flotation, rock drilling, and occasional deck work.
“I would not be where I am without GREAT. Their supports financially and emotionally have been amazing. Lori was my Employment and Training Coach. Throughout my journey, she would always check-in and ask me how I was doing, ask for photos, tell me how great I was doing. She offered an ear to listen to, and I especially appreciated her support when I first moved. I am proud to say that I am from Six Nations, and I always try to represent the community as best I can.”
In the future, Hill hopes to continue her journey and complete additional training to do more salvage, construction, and offshore diving.
“This industry is awesome. I love being in the water. Every day is something new. If you like being outside in any weather, boat rides, and being surrounded by thousands of fish, then this is the job for!”
When asked to provide advice to those who may be on the fence about pursuing their dreams, Shelsea had the following words of encouragement,
“Pick something that you’re passionate about and go for it. Don’t let fear rule you. If you’re passionate about something, then it’s going to work out. I should have moved out here a long time ago, but I was afraid, so I didn’t do it. Don’t be scared to fail. Fail and move on. Pick yourself back up and try again.”