Born to a ‘quiet on the land’ farm family in southwest Manitoba, I felt the security of home and from this place learned about an intriguing world. Following a mildly rebellious youth, a too-early stab at university and five years of construction labour I found myself back in university (Waterloo) studying Political Science / Peace and Conflict. I was asking ‘Who has political power? and How do they use and abuse it?’ I eventually left academia to experience the rough and tumble of the wider world.
Mennonite Central Committee offered me a position under the South African Council of Churches (led by anti-apartheid cleric Bishop Desmond Tutu at the time) as a community worker. After one year there, Maggie Andres (also from the prairies, studying in Waterloo) agreed to my marriage proposal. Over our eight years in Africa, we learned much about commitment to a cause and how habits of the more wealthy perpetuate pollution, poverty and injustice. We each, I learned, have the power.
Maggie and I have four children – all grown and independent. Along with friends and family we’ve romanced a quarter section of Turtle Mountain woodland. It’s our home, business and place of retreat called ‘Room To Grow’. You’re welcome to visit us at www.roomtogrow.info. Maggie works as a Resource Teacher. I manage an organic greenhouse and market garden and provide innkeeper services to visitors. We’ve recently become grandparents. We know now who has the power! Over the years we’ve done a good bit of low budget, back roads travel around North and Central America, Australia and Eurasia – being intrigued, as we are, by cultural diversity.
My life journey has prompted me to become involved in community-building organisations – like local farmers’ market, regional heritage, small scale farming and making space for the next generation of food providers. I’ve met many people with great ideas and energy to contribute to their communities. I’ve become concerned by the various ways governments at higher levels discourage, distract and even destabilize people of good intent. I feel we can do better and have entered this by-election contest to advocate for the community builders among us. Please see my Letter to Brandon-Souris.
Here is a more detailed list of public contributions.
Founding Chair/Board Member of Organic Food Council of Manitoba – regional arm of Canadian Organic Growers. 2000 – 2010.
Board Member of Turtle Mountain Community Development Corporation (TMCDC). 1997 – 2000.
Founder/Chair of the Agriculture Committee under TMCDC. 2002 – 2009
Writer/Editor of the 2002 ‘Organic Food Guide to Manitoba’.
Editor/Publisher of the 2004 ‘Successful Small Farms in Southwest Manitoba’ booklet.
Co-Founder/Chair/Director of Turtle Mountain – Souris Plains Heritage Assoc. 2005 – 2013
Co-Reviver/Chair/Board Member of Boissevain-Morton Farmers’ Market. 2008 – 2013
Co-Founder/Leadership Team of Manitoba Farm Mentorship program of OFCM-COG. 2008 – 2013