Pipe dreams
From toilets to kitchen sinks, a woman's work is never done

Scott Crabbe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 04/00) - "It's kind of neat when I meet different people and they ask what I do," says Cindy Lane.

"(The kids) think it's kind of cool that mom has a different job than anyone else."

Lane's office offers wall-to-wall pipe wrenches, propane fittings, washers and control valves. Her hands are greasy, but her smile is proud. Lane is the only female plumber apprentice in the Northwest Territories.

"There's been times when it's been -40 and I've had to crawl under trailers, or had a sewer line open and someone flushes a toilet in your face," Lane says.

"That's when I have to ask myself, 'What am I doing here?' But there's something about the pride, and being able to see a job well done that makes it all worth it."

Originally from Catalina, Nfld., Lane, 31, first moved to Yellowknife with her husband and two kids Michael and Michelle in 1994. Her husband has since left, leaving her to raise the kids on her own.

"I all of the sudden found myself a single mom, so I had to make money somehow," Lane says.

"I'm making more money at this than any other job I've done."

When she found out that her job (involving mostly paperwork) with ICG was going to be phased out, Lane decided to get into gas fitting.

"I had a knack for it," Lane says.

"I was asked if I wanted to do my plumbing ticket and I said 'Sure.' It

was continuous learning and it would get me away from office work."

Presently, Lane works as an apprentice at Ray Pirker's Plumbing. Well into her second year of the four-year program, she feels that without the support of her employer, friends and family, she couldn't have made it this far.

"It's an accomplishment to become something," Lane said.

"Believing in yourself and finding someone to believe in can be difficult, but I'm hoping that the feeling of accomplishment I'll get when I'm done the course will be the best feeling I've ever felt."