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  • Vermilion Voice

Are You Interested In Joining The Men’s Shed?


From left, Carol Coleman and Candice McLean. Photo Angela Mouly

Men of all ages met at the Vermilion Regional Centre to learn more about Men’s Sheds during a community meeting on January 25.

The meeting was sponsored by the Town of Vermilion’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), and the County of Vermilion River (CVR).

According to menssheds.ca, with sheds around the world, Doug Mackie from Winnipeg founded the first Canadian one in 2011. They say Doug recognized that several men in his community had both time on their hands and a tendency to suffer from isolation, loneliness, or depression. Because many men tie big parts of their identities to their careers, they said this was especially true after they retired. Since kick-starting MenSheds Manitoba, Doug has helped men come together, stay productive, and contribute to the community; all of which they say are keys to maintaining overall good health.

So far, the Vermilion group has brainstormed several ideas of what can keep them busy in the coming years. As well as being somewhere to have coffee and expand social networks; they are hoping to keep a learning environment where men can learn and practice woodworking; blacksmithing; firearms; millwright skills; as well as automobile mechanics or restoration. They may even plan some recreational activities, games nights, or occasionally invite speakers to discuss health topics of interest, or things such as retirement, estate planning, and investments. Because it’s a little different than anything currently in existence in the community, the Vermilion Men’s Shed seems to be sparking interest with anyone who hears about it.

In the coming weeks, they plan to reach out and contact potential partner organizations to discuss meeting or work space as well as potential sponsorship. FCSS Coordinator, Carol Coleman, noted that operating under a partner organization can help assist the group with grant writing and banking, as well as liability and insurance. Eventually, the group will operate on its own, the Town and County are just currently working to inform people and help them get off the ground.

“The idea is that it should be self-sustaining,” said Coleman. “The Cold Lake group has been very successful in getting some grants.”

Similar to other clubs you could provide a service for a small price or donation, such as bike repair or wooden birds for sale or donation to the Lodge. Other projects could include flower boxes, herb boxes, or raised garden boxes. Discussing that Vermilion acts as a central hub of the county, they said it may be a good location for the club and as it grows, but that people from any corner of the county (urban or rural) should be encouraged to attend.

As they get started they may need to share and borrow unneeded tools from other men’s sheds or attend one in another area to see how they operate. They will soon be discussing necessary roles within the organization and could use some men to volunteer.

“Unfortunately for anything to happen, someone needs to take leadership,” said Coleman.

One member volunteered to research potential meeting locations, and they will likely continue to meet in the evenings but will try to plan some daytime projects on the weekends so that people are more alert and energetic. They encourage people to use word of mouth to create more interest and may host a social gathering such as a pool tournament in order to get the word out.

“A lot of clubs are already established, but it is through those connections that new relationships and clubs grow over time. Conversation is different when you have a project,” said CVR Community Development Coordinator, Candice McLean. “When you have these inter-generational relationships, you create connection and opportunity to talk and learn from one another. Older people have experience and wisdom, and young people have an opportunistic view of the world; and when you mesh those you learn. And when you can do that over a common interest, the possibilities for conversation and not feeling alone are endless. The sense of relief you gain when you’ve gone through something similar is invaluable.”

Overall the participants so far seem keen and are encouraging more members to join so they can share both the organizing responsibility and everyone’s wealth of knowledge. So far they are still determining whether they would start with one project focus or alternate throughout the year, but they agree that the more interest they create, the more they will be able to offer and accomplish. Essentially the group aims to benefit its members with a sense of connectivity and productiveness, but in the long run they will also benefit the community as a whole with their partnerships and projects. Everyone from college students to seniors is encouraged to get involved.

“You have so much knowledge and things you can teach; don’t let anything stop you,” said Coleman.

Because they are actively looking for new members, in the meantime if you are interested you can email fcss@vermilion.ca or call Carol at 780-581-2413.

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