Working Lives Vancouver: Ship builder

WATCH: Shawn Sly hopes a new government contract will keep him employed for years

Shawn Sly is one of more than 100,000 British Columbians whose work relates to Vancouver's port, the largest in Canada.

Mr Sly is a steel worker in Seaspan's north Vancouver shipyard, building large barges that transport the region's natural resources such as timber and salmon.

Now, after more than a decade at Seaspan, he's fallen into a comfortable routine. Each morning, at 5am, he leaves his home in the suburb of Surrey, and picks up two of his union buddies. At the shipyard, he changes out of his sweatshirt and jeans into his blue jumpsuit, scruffy hardhat, and well-worn steel toe boots with the steel peeping out - and then, once the whistle blows at 7am, he picks up his toolkit.

As a steel fitter, he makes around $55,000 (£34,150) a year when the work is steady, which hasn't always been the case. Over the last few years, as the world economic downturn took its toll, layoffs were common in the yard.

"It's a hard way to live like that, never having any consistency in your life," he says.

But now, after years of uncertainty, the shipyard has won a billion-dollar contract from the Canadian government, and Mr Sly says he hopes to keep to his routine for decades to come.


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