My very first mentor, the first man that told me he believed I was capable of doing electrical work passed away in 2021. His name was Gerhard Dekker.
It was 2009 and the winter in Winnipeg was cold yet sunny, and I picked up the landline in the communal house I was living in, referred to my hand written phone list to call a few friends in town to ask if they knew anyone that could teach me about electricity. I had been trying to teach myself from electronics project kits and books from the bookstore, but it was at a point where I needed help. And as a sensitive soul, I was terrified of the construction industry and its ability to break me. My roommate at the time was an electrician, working for his dad. He told me I would not enjoy working with his dad, because he was quite bigoted, and that I would have to look elsewhere for the knowledge. I eventually was name dropped Gerhard Dekker, a resident of the Northern Sun Farm, an off grid coop located just south of Winnipeg Manitoba. I gave him a call.
He heard my speal, about what I was looking for, and said:
‘If I wanted I could come live there on the farm for free, he would feed me too, I would have to work the farm and he would teach me what he knew.’
I thought this was a great deal, and soon found myself on the farm. Gerhard was an old hippy, and an old engineering student. He showed me about their wind turbine, and how he hooked up a stove element as the heat sink.
He showed me their solar power setup, and the solar powered water pump that he had fabricated his own custom parts for out of JB WELD. He showed me this great electronics manual like the intro electronics books Forest Mims wrote for Radio Shack https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrest_Mims, and I built my first LED lamp. He also showed me the brilliant alternatives to switches he has installed in his custom built home, such as the kids bedroom where you hit the doorway frame to turn on the light and it turned off on a timer. Or the kitchen light that switched on when you pulled up on the towel rack, also on a timer. When you live off the grid and your energy comes from a battery you dont want to risk running out of power.
We used power tools, I helped convert a diesel fuel school bus to also run on vegetable oil. I helped build solar food dehydrators. I learned a lot in my short time on the farm from Gerhard, a lot about living off the grid. I also learned I did not want to live off the grid, and that I would have to go to school to really learn about electricity. So after 3 months I went off back to BC to start my pursuit of an electrical apprenticeship. He changed my life for the better, and gave me confidence and an unforgettable life experience.
This story is about a man that gave me hope. Please check out this video of Gerhard on the farm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5sjhuHaLs4&ab_channel=KaoruRyanSuzuki
The other half of the story involves where my journey took me, where I went from rejecting mainstream society, to embracing it and trying to succeed in it. I think the society that I was rejecting is changing slowly and is becoming a more equitable and accepting place. I find myself now reviewing the government of Canada’s employment equity act and it turns out so should everyone. Im sure Gerhard would find it funny that I segweyed from a eulogy to honour him into a callout for all citizens to put their 2 cents into this:
The Employment Equity Act Review Consultation process is open for public input until 28 April 2022. Employment Equity Act Review Consultation
The EEA needs to reflect changing demographics and the current understandings of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Hearing from individuals, including those from underrepresented groups who have lived experiences, and their allies, can help strengthen the federal employment equity framework. Your views will ensure the Act responds to the realities of today’s workplaces. We invite you to participate in this consultation by sharing with us your views related to employment equity.
Key areas for discussion
The Task Force will study and engage on 4 key areas, as outlined in the Terms of Reference:
- Defining equity groups – How to modernize and define EEA designated groups
- Better supporting equity groups – How to better support equity groups protected under the EEA
- Improving accountability, compliance and enforcement – How to improve accountability, compliance, enforcement for employment equity; and
- Improving public reporting – How to improve public reporting for employment equity
The Task Force will consider your input when developing their recommendations during their review of the EEA.
- Overview of policy issues and background – Employment Equity Act review
- Policy brief 1: Defining and expanding equity groups
- Policy brief 2: Better supporting equity groups
- Policy brief 3: Accountability, compliance, enforcement and public reporting of employment equity
- Annex 1: Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat demographic list
- Annex 2: Barriers to employment equity for equity groups
Employment Equity Act Review Task Force
C/O Employment Equity Act Review Secretariat
(mailstop # 911)
ESDC, 140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV
Gatineau, QC, K1A 0J9