August 10, 2012
Stage shaped like Jamaica built by Carpenters’ Union
Building a stage in the shape of Jamaica called for an old-school approach from a group of carpenters who created the showcase piece for that nation’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in Toronto.
“It was strictly jigsaws, clamps, belt sanders, screws and patience,” explained Tony Currie, Carpenters’ Union Local 27 Training Centre program coordinator.
“We took each section and we simply scaled it and then did it full size on a four by eight sheet of plywood.”
The six-foot high, 100- by 30-foot stage with rounded corners, intricate cuts and numerous circular pods for dancers, will be the main stage at the Jamaica Land We Love Gala on Aug. 11.
“When I was asked to be involved with building a stage with the outline of Jamaica, I knew exactly what it would be like as a difficult project. I was amazed that the guys from our training centre could actually pull this off,” said Ucal Powell, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario.
Besides the sheer size of the stage, one of the biggest challenges will be disassembling it and then reassembling it in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in one day, said Currie, who predicts that will be at least a 16-hour workday. The stage would cost upwards of $75,000 to be built by a private contractor.
Young apprentices from community groups such as Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and Career, Help, Opportunity, Incentive, Community, Employment (CHOICE) worked with training instructors from Local 27 on the pro-bono project.
O’Shea Williams is working with Local 27 through the CHOICE program and said it’s been an excellent experience.
“I just feel like I’m part of my ancestors right now. I feel very proud that I get a chance to be a part of this and I get a chance to celebrate the 50th independence of Jamaica,” he said.
The Carpenters’ became involved with CHOICE after the “summer of the gun” in 2005.
“At this point in time in Canada, where there’s going to be a skills shortage in the very near future, (we will do) whatever we can do to assist the youth before they get in trouble,” said Powell.
“We want to get them before they reach a point of no return and assist them in whatever way we can.”
Williams is now on the road to be a journeyperson.
“Coming from the situation I was in, the options weren’t really all there. To be blessed with this opportunity, I just took it and I ran with it and it’s really paying off,” he said.
Powell said it’s important to give back to the community.
“We’ve been very fortunate and our members support the kinds of initiatives that we take on as an organization,” he explained.
“It’s sort of a legacy that personally I would like to leave as someone who has been fortunate to come to Canada and was welcomed with open arms.”
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