Rising Female Carpenter Calls for Respect

Oct, 23 2020

 

 

2019 BTVI Carpentry graduate, Christabelle Izevbizua, sits in a large pallet wood planter she built.

 

 

 

Hard at work, Christabelle is shown doing router work.

 

Christabelle takes pride in her work. She is shown here with a pallet herb planter she made.

 

BTVI’s Chairman, Kevin Basden, presenting Christabelle Izevbizua with her diploma cover at the 2019 graduation ceremony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Christabelle Izevbizua has built a coffee table, television stand, cabinet, dinner table, work bench and planter boxes. Her current and biggest project thus far, is working on an automatic driveway gate.

This 2019 carpentry graduate of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) is putting all she has learned to use. Christabelle has been an apprentice at Caso Kitchen & Design since September, 2020 and is excited about gaining more knowledge and experience.

Having recently worked inside a kitchen cabinet, Christabelle, whose brand for her work is Bellewood By Design, said she is passionate about what she does.

“As a tomboy in high school, I didn't want to take any of the electives that the girls were choosing so I opted for Woodwork in grades seven through nine and then Carpentry in grades 10 through 12. I fell in love with it,” said the Kingsway Academy graduate.

“I've juggled with this idea of becoming a carpenter for 12 years. But I think the fact that it has been on my mind for that long speaks for itself. So yes, it is a love and I am very passionate about it. I have so many goals to achieve in this industry - one of which will shine a spotlight on tradeswomen,” said the 30-year-old.

“To the female high schooler interested in a trade, I say go for it. Explore it. Immerse yourself in it sooner rather than later to see if that's what you really want to do, and if it is, then follow your dreams and don't let anyone stop you - not even family. Be confident - not arrogant - in your skills, put yourself out there, and demand respect from your male counterparts,” stated the young woman.

Questioned as to whether there is anyone locally she looks up to in the field of carpentry, Christabelle who recycles pallet wood for her personal projects, admitted that she has not been exposed to enough people to emulate anyone. However, two construction trades’ instructors at BTVI, who impacted her were Graham Thornley, who taught Carpentry and Sheldon Maycock, who taught Blue Print Reading. 

Internationally, there are two women the Do-It-Yourself enthusiast has followed on social media for years, namely Charis Williams (The Salvage Sister) and April Wilkerson (Wilkerdos).  

BTVI’s Dean of Construction Trades and Workforce Development, Alexander Darville noted that there is a need for skilled labourers, including carpenters. He welcomed the new addition to the field.

“There is a major demand for cabinet making, stairway making, furniture making etc. Even before hurricane Dorian, it was a skill that was needed,” said Mr. Darville. 

Additionally, Christabelle, who is the mother of one, said it is her 11-year-old son, her significant other and a few close friends, who motivate her to keep doing what she loves. She pointed out that her mother is her greatest supporter.  

Christabelle, who describes herself as outdoorsy, adventurous and a bit of a perfectionist, encourages other females to make the jump into male-dominated professions, not allowing the gender gap to widen. 

“I've definitely come across people who are shocked about my interest in carpentry because of my appearance. ‘You're too pretty’ or ‘You’re too small for that,’ they say. I'm fortunate to have family and friends who fully support me,” said Christabelle for whom carpentry was first a hobby.

“Unfortunately this social construct begins at a young age. Do you see parents buying tool toys for girls? Nope,” she said matter-of-factly.

She added that females in trades seem to be a foreign concept to too many people.

“It's long overdue that we normalize it. Tradesmen won't start respecting tradeswomen until that happens,” said Christabelle.