There were many times during her training that Lora Cardinal wanted to give up. However, she persisted and overcame the obstacles in her way. Today, she’s an electrical training instructor striving to empower people in and outside her classroom.

“I didn't love it in the beginning, but I grew to be passionate about my trade because I got good at it. When you get good at something and you understand it and you know it, you're competent and confident. When you have that ability, you can conquer anything in your career,” says Lora.

Also, a hockey mom of two young boys, Lora Cardinal found her passion and discovered her talent as a dual-ticketed Red Seal Electrician and Power System Electrician, but it wasn’t an easy journey getting to where she is now. As a shy 19-year-old in the Alberta Aboriginal Apprenticeship program and in the beginning of her career she found it difficult to understand her instructor’s and mentor’s teaching methods and was afraid to ask questions. “I struggled like crazy,” she says. “I did my third year over again and I did a rewrite exam for my 4th year.”

A selfie of Lora with her two sons, X, Z. The boys are wearing baseball hats. There's a green field in the background
A selfie of Lora with her two sons, Lowen (9) and Chael (7)

Fast forward 20 years in various field-based roles, Lora is now a full-time electrical training instructor. “I facilitate the Electrical Worker Suncor Standards for shock and electrical arc flash.” She is proud of the positive feedback she’s received on how she teaches the course. “I empower everyone to share their stories. I get the classroom talking because there’s so much we take away from sharing experiences.”

Indigenous employee, electrician and electrical trainer at Base Plant site, Lora Cardinal at the Suncor Learning Centre instructing trades on the Electrical Workers Suncor Standards (EWSS). She’s standing in front of writing board wearing a black jacket and white shirt. There’s a male worker sitting with his back to the camera and his hand raised.
Lora Cardinal at the Suncor Learning Centre instructing trades on the Electrical Workers Suncor Standards (EWSS).

Outside the classroom, Lora gives back to her community through the Athabasca Tribal Council by hosting girls to live with her while completing high school off-reserve. “I hope to inspire them by showing what an independent woman can accomplish. I’m a strong advocate for educating a young person to help them grow so that they can bring back to their community.”

Lora shared a particular instance of when her story and support inspired a young woman to keep pursuing her trades training. “I met a young Indigenous girl who was doing her 4th year electrical and was ready to give up.” Lora told her that she wasn’t ashamed to share the struggles she went through. “I asked her to find every little ounce of anything she had left and take it and just try. I encouraged her to reach out to me for support.” One month later, Lora was thrilled to receive a message from her that she had completed her final year, and it was Lora’s talk that inspired her to keep going.

Lora was recently featured in Electrical Business magazine, has been a panelist at a Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Women in Trades conference power and the Supporting Women In Trades conference. She will also be on the board of Women Building Futures beginning in September this year. By sharing her story and experience she wants to empower other women like her. “I had many ups and downs, but my message is whatever you do, and as hard as it gets, just never stop.”

There are five women sitting on a stage for the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum panel. Lora is wearing a green and blue traditional Indigenous skirt on the right-side of the stage.
Lora Cardinal, on the panel of Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Women in Trades conference power hour for Indigenous women in the industry.