Major donation to the CWB Welding Foundation will spark the development of the marine welding workforce of the future

The CWB Welding Foundation is helping current and future students in British Columbia pursue a pathway to a welding career, thanks to a significant donation from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation in conjunction with Seaspan. The donation, totaling $300,000 over three years, will be used to build awareness of the welding trade, enable welding skill development, and forge pathways to meaningful careers in welding across shipbuilding, manufacturing, energy and other evolving industries.

"In 2016, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation demonstrated their belief in our mandate and vision by donating $300,000 for a three-year project to support the development of the next generation of welders," said Susan Crowley, Executive Director of the CWB Welding Foundation. "We are thrilled that the Foundation is again entrusting us with this transformative gift, and we are proud to be making a real difference in the welding workforce needs of Seaspan and other Canadian companies."

"Dennis and Phyllis Washington believe that access to a high-quality education is the most important determinant of success in life," said Mike Halligan, Executive Director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. "Continuing our partnership with CWB Welding Foundation is directly aligned with our Foundation mission of giving people, especially our young people, the tools they need to succeed. Seaspan and Southern Railway of British Columbia will directly benefit from the state-of-the art training these graduates receive and we look forward to a continued partnership that is delivering enhanced welding skills to BC high school students."

"We are very pleased to be part of this investment in our next generation of welders," said Joe O’Rourke, Vice President and General Manager, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards. "As the leading shipyard on the West Coast for complex vessel repair and modernization, our strength lies in our highly-skilled team and this donation will help more young people realize the bright future they can have in a welding career."

The donation is already having a positive impact. Upgrades to the welding shop at Royal Bay Secondary School in Victoria—an investment of over $100,000—are underway. When complete, the 120 students currently enrolled in the school’s metal classes will have double the amount of shop time available to work on teacher-led and personal projects and to train for Skills/Compétences Canada competitions.  

Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) in Victoria is also benefiting from the purchase of new equipment and consumables that will maximize opportunities for hands-on, experiential welding practice and activities that can lead students into post-secondary welding education. Currently, 16 EMCS graduates are enrolled in welding and metal fabrication at Camosun College. The new round of funding will also support students participating in a dual-credit welding program to be offered in partnership with Camosun.

"We are set to open the program as a full cohort, as we interviewed 21 applicants for 18 spots in the program; needless to say, there is plenty of interest in the metal trades at EMCS and School District #62," said Paul Block, Associate Superintendent of Sooke Schools. "This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the generous donations from the CWB Welding Foundation which have enabled new equipment and capacity to be added to the EMCS metal shop."

Some of the remaining $200,000 in funds set to be released in 2021 and 2022 will be invested in Vancouver-area high schools, many of which benefited from the 2016 gift from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation that impacted eight BC school districts. As a result of the 2016 donation, 1,742 students were able to access new welding equipment, materials and “Mind Over Metal” welding camps for youth, and 61 instructors received welding training. This initial $300,000 gift from the Foundation was supported by $372,000 in co-operative investment from BC school districts and the CWB Welding Foundation for a total project investment of $672,000.

"I’d like to thank the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation for their philanthropic commitment to advancing secondary school welding education," said Susan Crowley. "This donation brings their total giving in support of welding education in BC through us to $600,000, which has in turn been matched by support from the CWB Welding Foundation as well as from school boards across the province. Partnerships like this will give Canadian industries access to a welding workforce with the right skills to be successful over the long term."

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation supports a broad spectrum of organizations benefiting at-risk youth, economically and socially disadvantaged individuals and families, and those with special needs. It is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family, with funding coming from personal contributions from the Washington family and the annual contributions from The Washington Companies including Seaspan, a major shipbuilding company based in Vancouver and Victoria that requires an ongoing supply of welders and welder fitters. Learn more: