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Pemberton Men's Shed

Reprinted from "The Pemberton Page" / Village of Pemberton (March 2015)

How do you transition from being a warrior to being an elder? It's a rite of passage every man must face, but there's no real place to do that work in Pemberton. At least, there hasn't been, until now. So, the Pemberton Valley Seniors Society have dedicated their energy to the development of a Men's Shed in Pemberton.

Pemberton Men's Shed / Tool Library Website

The Pemberton Men's Shed / Tool Library website is online at http://www.pembertontoollibrary.com/

Marnie Simon, with the Pemberton Valley Seniors Society, cites the statistics that have motivated a trend of Men's Sheds around Canada over the past four years - the highest rate of suicides in Canada are in men 67 or older. This stoic, often isolated segment of the population isn't necessarily well-versed in talking about their feelings or asking for help. "The women in the PVSS have, over the last years, been worried by how few men we have participating in the activities we hold."

In European towns, senior men are often hanging out at the local square, playing dominoes or chess or bocce ball, watching the world go by and offering their wry commentary on it. In the New World, older men don't have a space or a ready-built community to join, on retirement from the workforce.

As Simon says: "There's a saying: men work shoulder to shoulder and women work face to face." Men's Sheds are a solution that sprang out of Australia, where blokes don't have man-caves - they have backyard sheds. Frances Hopkins, the Vancouver Coastal Seniors Supported Housing Coordinator had direct experience with them. The Seniors Society has now successfully received three grants to get a Men's Shed running in Pemberton. They're also part of a pilot project being run by the University of Manitoba, funded by Movember, to develop a Men's Shed toolkit, giving the group comprehensive resources to get going. "It really seems to be falling together," says Simon of the momentum the project has gathered in a few short months. "And the projects are coming in, too!"

Doug Mackie founded the first Men's Shed in Canada four years ago, in Winnipeg, where members meet to play card games, go for walks and work on projects. He visited Pemberton earlier in the winter to share his experiences. The initiative will also benefit from the wisdom of Bill Reynolds who co-founded the very successful tool-lending library in Vancouver and is in the process of moving up here to Pemberton to be closer to family.

An Advisory Committee has been set up in Pemberton to represent the men, while Hopkins and Simon keep the money rolling in and the vision growing. Right now, the group are most keen to receive donations for a tool-lending library. "We'd like to have that viable by April".

To get involved, find out more, or donate tools, contact Marnie at marnie_s@shaw.ca