Three women with 20-plus years experience trimming and packing fish and operating machinery are now discussing yearbooks and grad gowns as they prepare to receive their high school diplomas next week.
Mary Snook, 47, Dorothy Mahoney, 56, and Olive McIsaac, 64, all worked at Highland Fisheries in Glace Bay, which was later bought by Clearwater Fine Foods.
In 2006, after a union dispute, workers went on strike, were laid off or later locked out. In September that same year, the three women enrolled in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s adult education program.
“I wanted mine since I was 35, but I didn’t want to leave a good-paying job to do it,” said Mahoney of her high school diploma. “So when the fish plant went on strike that was the time to do it.”
Snook juggled school, work at a local confectionery shop and her housework and said at times she thought of giving up.
McIsaac, the class valedictorian, said it was attending a job interview and being told she needed a Grade 12 certificate that prompted her to head back to school.
The three fish plant workers will collect their diplomas today.