Golden spotlight shines on trades apprentice< More Stories
But, that’s exactly what happened to this Lakeland College Class of 2009 welding alumna.
From April until October 2016, the Simcoe, Ont., native spent her days at a camp about 100 kilometres south of Dawson City, Yukon, mining for gold with the Tony Beets crew. Borges was asked to join the team by fellow welder “Big Mike” Beaudry, who’s been on the popular reality show for three seasons.
“The entire experience was phenomenal. To see Canada’s northern scenery and the history surrounding the area is amazing,” says Borges, adding everyone should get to experience 24-hour daylight at least once in their lifetime.
“Everyone should go, even if only for a week.”
Throughout the season, a production crew of about 20 people captured all the action. Cameras were constantly within arm’s reach, recording nearly 300 hours of footage for a single episode. When operators weren’t in sight, you could be guaranteed a GoPro was watching.
“I had to bite my tongue,” says Borges with a laugh, knowing someone was always listening. “But you get used to it and pretend no one is around.”
What started as a dozen or so working under Beets’ daughter Monica in an all-female group, Borges was one of four females who stayed for the full stint. While not unfamiliar with the work at hand, she was provided multiple hands-on opportunities to build and dismantle barges and trailers, operating a dredge, haul trucks and various other equipment.
When it came time to leave, tears were shed, says the 34-year-old welder. She learned not only about the production crew but the life experiences of everyone she worked alongside.
“After spending six months with everyone, you get pretty close. Hopefully, I get to see them next year,” says Borges, who is already contemplating returning despite the personal hardship.
“Emotionally, mentally and physically it was tough,” explains Borges, who was away from her husband Randy Rechlo for six months. “But I would do it again in a heartbeat, so long as my husband is okay with it."
The show’s seventh season premiered on Nov. 1, 2016, and since then Borges has seen herself in three episodes, joking the camera operators could have taken better angles of her. However, Episode 13 (Lifeline), which aired Jan. 17, is a favourite as it shows a shot of the memorial sticker for Rick Mossip on her welding helmet.
“Rick was our best man at our wedding, he passed away three months later,” says Borges. “Knowing he was up there (in the Yukon) with me, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Now, back home, Borges continues to operate her company, Scorpion Steel Ltd. (https://www.facebook.com/ScorpionSteelLtd), offering 24-hour mobile welding services and custom fabrication.
As to how she first arrived at Lakeland, word of mouth played a large role. And now, she too is telling others about the program.
“To this day, anyone I talk to about getting their welding ticket, I tell them to go to Lakeland,” says Borges. “The instructors are amazing and very encouraging for a female.”