Hilary Peach’s memoir, Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood.
To kick off the New Year in style, the BC Tradeswomen Society partnered with the BC Centre for Women in the Trades to celebrate the memoir written by one of the Society’s Directors at Large, Hilary Peach. Two launch parties were held for her celebrated book, Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood, published by Anvil Press (2022).
The first event was in Victoria at Herald Street Brew Works. Lindsay Kearns, a red seal electrician and the coordinator for BCCWITT, did a lot of the heavy lifting in organizing the event and stepped up to emcee as well. Judy Kyundzic, whose portrait is on the cover of the book, was a pioneer in the trades, and the first women to work at the shipyards in Victoria since the 1940’s. Judy spoke about her own journey, then introduced legendary tradeswoman Kate Braid. Kate is a red seal carpenter who has written two memoirs, Journeywomen: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s World, and Hammer & Nail: Notes of a Journeywoman, as well as three books of poetry about her experiences in construction. Kate then introduced the woman of the hour, Hilary Peach, who read several excerpts from Thick Skin. The stories of her exploits as a traveling boilermaker, were met with much laughter and applause.
The second book launch was held in Vancouver at Hero’s Welcome, a community-focused pub that has been home to the Local 298 Taurus Club for more than seventy years. Nicole Wiet, an elevator mechanic and the President of the BC Tradeswomen Society, was delighted to get the chance to emcee the event. Opening the evening was Christina Shah, one-fifth of the Harbour Centre 5 poetry collective. Christina read a selection from her newly released chapbook, Brine, including poems that reflect her experiences working as a sales representative of industrial heavy equipment. Judy Kyundzic read poems by Kate Braid, followed by Hilary’s selections from Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood. Funny, sad, and sometimes downright cheeky, Hilary’s recollections of boilermaking had the room, which was packed with seventy or so tradeswomen, laughing and hollering.
Both of these highly successful events were made possible through financial support from the BC Centre for Women in the Trades, and the BC Tradeswomen Society would like to thank Karen Dearlove and Lindsay Kearns of BCCWITT for all their great work. As well, we’d like to offer a huge and heartfelt thanks to Erin Flanagan, who donated her time taking amazing photos at both events. Thanks also to Herald Street Brew Works in Victoria, Hero’s Welcome in Vancouver, and to Anvil Press for publishing the book that has meant so much to the tradeswomen who have read it.
If you missed these events, stay tuned for announcements about upcoming THICK SKIN reading events in Prince George, Kelowna, and at Camosun College in Victoria in the weeks to come. Also be sure to join the Thick Skin Facebook group and post about the book.
Members of the BC Tradeswomen Society would like to respectfully acknowledge that we are grateful to live, work and play on the traditional and unceded territories of various nations, covering all regions of British Columbia. We are honoured to live on this land and are committed to reconciliation, decolonization and building meaningful relationships on our job sites and within our community.