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The Chilliwack Progress Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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THE CHILLIWACK

PROGRESS presents

2ND ANNUAL CHILLIWACK IN PROGRESS

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SPOTLIGHTING THE YOUNG INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS THAT MAKE UP THE COMMERCIAL, ARTISTIC & SOCIAL FABRIC OF OUR GROWING COMMUNITY

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The Chilliwack Progress Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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JEFF BONNER • 39

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Tractorgrease Studio a vital hub Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck He’s created a recording space for artists in Chilliwack, and worked with some of the hottest musicians around. Jeff Bonner, 39, took over Tractorgrease Studios on Alexander Avenue four years ago with a bold, entrepreneurial vision. He’d finance his hobby of filming and recording music by continuing to install multimedia audio/video and lighting systems around town, which he’d done for years. The word is out. Instead of heading west into Vancouver to lay down tracks, some artists are heading east to Tractorgrease in Chilliwack. “I got tired of doing live sound recording at other venues,” he says. So he went ahead and built an outstanding live venue, complete with a performance stage inside a studio, and the latest in lighting and sound innovation. His client list is impressive: 54-40, Mother Mother, Barney Bentall, Steve Dawson, Jim Byrnes, Ridley Bent, The Deep Dark Woods, John Bottomley, The Sojourners, and Tom Wilson of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. “These are some of the artists I grew up listening to,” says Bonner. “And they chose my studio.” Mother Mother is one of his favourite bands, and he was thrilled when they sought out his services. Country star Ridley Bent was Bonner’s old roommate on Menzies Street, where they lived,

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year ago, The Progress A“Chilliwack released its first in Progress.”

jammed and recorded. Quite a solid local music scene has been developing, with bands starting to make a name for themselves from Chilliwack and Abbotsford. “I’d like to think I’ve been a part of bringing that together.” Local artists in studio range from Rags to Radio, Chad Blackey, The Stirs, and Jason Guill, to Fanaticus, Harma White, Calico Thief, and Quinn Patterson. Bonner was stoked to record music for theatrical productions like Misty Hill Automaton,

Drowsy Chaperone, and Paper Wheat. He was nominated three times for his work last year. He was up for best 2011 Blues DVD for The Misssissippi Sheiks Tribute, Best DVD at the WCMAs for The Mississippi Sheiks Tribute and Best Video Director at the BCMAs for work with Ridley Bent. “I’m very happy with what I’m able to do for a living. It sure can be a lot of work. But it’s my vision of what I want to be doing. “When you love what you do it goes a long way.”

It was an exploration of local innovation, and a celebration of success stories in a number of different sectors. This year, we turn to people. We’ve complied a list of individuals – all under the age of 40 – who are making a difference in their chosen professions and their community. The list is arbitrary, and by no means exhaustive. A few of the names you’ll recognize. But we’re hoping there will be a few you don’t. Chilliwack is a rich and dynamic community that draws on a wealth of talent to keep it strong. Here are just a few of the people that continue to ensure Chilliwack remains “In Progress.” ~ Greg Knill, Editor

INEZ JASPER • 27 A powerhouse of talent

Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck Singer-songwriter Inez is at a bit of a crossroads. Her demanding music career as one of the top aboriginal artists in Canada, and her job as a busy community health nurse for Sto:lo Nation are increasingly vying for her attention. “I really don’t know how much longer I can juggle two careers,” she says. “Both are very demanding of my time and concentration. Neither areas deserve any less attention than the other.” The 27-year-old powerhouse is a role model for youth and passionate about inspiring them as a nurse, recording artist, producer, actress, and motivational speaker. Her traditional Sto:lo, Ojibway and Métis roots come through, and are woven in alongside her love of hip hop and R&B in her music. After dropping her solo album Singsoulgirl, she took home best

new artist, best pop album and single of the year for the tune Breathe featuring Magic Touch, at the 2009 Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards in Winnipeg. She was also nominated for a Juno and a Western Canadian Music Award. She’s written and recorded the first few tracks for the next album. “I’m getting really excited about this project,” she says. “It will explore themes of renewal and new energy. “A lot has changed since my last album: I’ve had a baby, toured like crazy and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my music. “I’m really looking forward to presenting the next album to my fans.” Her proudest career moment was coming home and hosting a performance for her home community after performing and winning at the Aboriginal People’s Choice awards in 2009. “I felt so much support when I saw everyone arriving at the hall early to make sure they got good

seats for the show.” She was named 2008 National Aboriginal Role Model by the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) in Ottawa for her contributions to the community. How about her political aspirations. Her father Mark, former Skowkale chief, and her husband Otis Jasper is chief of Soowahlie

First Nation. “I used to have political aspirations,” she admits. “I used to plan to run for chief in my community and work towards positive change. “I’ll leave that to the professionals, like my husband. I see now that my calling is in a different area.” People always ask who her role models are or what helped her on

the road to success. “Really, it was so many things but I have to give a lot of credit to my family. “My family is hardworking and resilient with traditional family values. People in my community provide positive affirmations for me all the time. “I want to pay it forward through my music.”


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012 The Chilliwack Progress

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MAX GARDNER • 17 Politics in action Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck Max Gardner is just 17 years old, but already knows more about politics than most people 10 years his senior. And he’s using that knowledge to educate his peers. In the last election, Gardner was disgusted with Chilliwack’s voter turnout, which had less than 15 per cent of the eligible population going to the polls. It was that election that sparked a collaboration between Gardner and fellow teen William Van Hoepen to start Todays2morrow, a Twitter account aimed at engaging the younger population in all things politics. With Todays2morrow, Gardner hopes that by the time his age group can vote, they will exercise that right. “Politics affect everything,” he said. “It affects the way we live. It affects everything that happens in society. And voting takes just 15 minutes of your day, it shows that you care, and that you’re a connected member of your community. It’s ridiculous not to vote.” Gardner’s interest in politics started around eight years old, when sitting in his grandmother’s basement watching live coverage of Stephen Harper winning the leadership of the Conservative party. His interest led him to a rally in Calgary a couple years later, where he was able to shake the hand of the newly elected prime minister. Then to Calgary City Hall to meet then Governor

General Michelle Jean, who he gifted a bouquet of flowers to. And because he spoke fluent French to her, Jean invited him to sit in on the speech she gave. “Any opportunity like that, I always try to take advantage of,” Gardner said. “ I think it’s important to expose yourself to people who have done great things, because then you’ll want to do great things too.” Gardner doesn’t want to become a politician, but he does want to help others understand the importance of politics. So far, he’s doing a good job. During the recent teachers’ job action, Gardner created a Facebook page to inform his peers on the politics of the situation. He provided different links for both sides and created videos as well. Gardner also organized a student walkout at Sardis secondary to oppose the government’s Bill 22 legislation. More than 100 students from Sardis participated. Gardner hopes Todays2morrow will evolve into a program that reaches kids not just on Twitter and Facebook, but face-to-face in the schools. He and Van Hoepen are currently working on a presentation they hope to take into the schools. “Grades 8 to 12 are the focus,” he said. “Grade 8 is when you really start thinking about what’s happening in the world around you, and learning about government in school. And so, if they see a young person close to their age talking about why they’re interested and how politics affect them, then maybe it’ll rub off. “I don’t expect everyone to be gung-ho about politics,” said Gardner. “I just want them to care and go and vote.”

ED HINKLEY • 35 Fair minded Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck Ed Hinkley remembers walking the midway at the Chilliwack Fair as a youngster, recalling vividly the sights, sounds and the smells that made the annual event so special. When he sees a child running through the crowd now with an ear-to-ear grin and cotton candy in hand, he sees himself. “I remember putting my rabbit in the fair, putting projects in the fair, getting that blue ribbon that probably every kid in my age group got,” he said with a smile. “It was an experience for me and an inexpensive local outing for my parents.” Hinkley is 35 years old now, and all this time the Chilliwack Fair has continued to hold a place in his heart. Three years ago, he became a director, joining the 18-member group that organizes British Columbia’s second longest

running fair (since 1873 and counting). Two years ago Hinkley was elevated to the role of president, giving him the opportunity to push harder on some of his ideas. Hinkley has watched Chilliwack change dramatically since he was a child, when the vast majority of the populace was tied into agriculture. “Back in the day, 90 per cent of the population was in agriculture, and people were interested in it,” Hinkley estimated. “Now it’s maybe five per cent. Chilliwack was built on farming, but a lot of people living here now have absolutely no ties to agriculture. So we need things that appeal to their way of life.” It’s not re-inventing so much as modernizing. Hinkley wants to maintain the strong agricultural presence, but he also sees BMX and skateboarding displays, musical acts and roller derby. He sees everyone in Chilliwack visiting the fair, as opposed to the 20,000 or so who do now (over

three days). “The big issue is with the community buy-in, because anything we try to bring to the fair costs money,” he said. “Getting city support with funds, or individual sup-

port with attendance and sponsorship, is key to getting the features and providing the shows that people want to watch.” Hinkley works at it several hours a week, 52 weeks a year, trying to

make his vision a reality. Who can say for certain what the future holds. But if energy and dedication count for anything, the Chilliwack Fair is in very good hands.


The Chilliwack Progress Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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CARIN BONDAR • 36 Biologist with a twist Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck Dr. Carin Bondar wants to be the female version of David Suzuki. In a predominantly male industry, the 36-year-old “performing” biologist says it’s time for females to take charge. Bondar is determined to lead the way. “When we think of science communicators, we think of David Suzuki, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Attenborough; there are all these males in this demographic, and I’m just looking to be a female version of that,” said Bondar. However, the mother of four, is no Amy Farrah Fowler; she goes against the stereotypical nerdy grain. “I was the girliest girl,” she said. Bondar never intended on becoming a biologist, but rather a professional ballerina. She started

dancing at five years old, and was hired on by a professional dance company in Germany right out of high school. When she went to university a year later, she did so

with an arts degree in mind. And yet, every semester Bondar enrolled in a biology course, for the interest of the subject. By her third year, she decided to major in

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biology. “It’s funny how sometimes the most obvious thing is just not obvious to you at the time,” said Bondar who has a masters and

PhD in biology. While she let go of her dancing dreams, she didn’t let go of her pizzaz. Rather than focus on the mundane of science found in textbooks, Bondar zeroes in on eye-opening tidbits like cross-dressing insects, bromancing baboons, and sibling rivalry amongst sea lions. Bondar writes a regular blog on her website, as well as one for the David Suzuki Foundation, Huffington Post, and Scientific American. She’s appeared on several television networks promoting science; has published a book, The Nature of Human Nature; and was recently cast as host of a new science TV pilot out of Los Angeles that starts shooting in May. “I hope to be paving the way for other girls,” she said. “Maybe as women in science get more press, maybe then it will get easier. “It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears, a lot of nos, getting ignored, a lot of frustrations. But I’ve had the same New Year’s resolution for three years now: Don’t give up, keep going, keep trying, no ifs, ands, or buts. It takes a lot of determination and hard work, but it’s very, very worthwhile.”

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JOE MASSIE • 32 ‘A’ is for agriculture Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck

When teacher Joe Massie was asked to take over the agriculture program at Sardis secondary, he felt it was something he had to do to pay his dues. He was a young physics teacher, just in his second year, and the agriculture program was a class no science teacher wanted. Most students taking the course didn’t care about agriculture, they just wanted an easy science credit, said Massie, 32. But the more he thought about the course, the more it made sense. He grew up on farms, raised dairy cattle, beef cattle and chickens. He also spent eight years of his youth working part-time at a local greenhouse on Prest Road. “I decided that rather than just accept that I’d be teaching the worst course at the school,” he said, “I could transform it into the best course at the school.” With help from co-teacher Tania Toth, Massie has done just that. The greenhouse on the school grounds, which for years was overgrown and dilapi-

dated, was revamped under Massie’s guidance into an up-to-date facility with advanced technologies. Students are now growing an assortment of vegetables, plants, flowers, as well as raising animals that have included layer chickens, broiler chickens, turkeys, and ducks. Massie has also formed partnerships with

local greenhouses, farms, and the University of the Fraser Valley’s agriculture department, which now offers Sardis secondary’s agriculture students up to three university credit courses while still in high school – giving them automatic entrance into UFV once graduated. The course isn’t the only thing that’s

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changed, the style of students taking the course has as well. They’re now interested in agriculture, excited to learn about the industry, asking about the differences between local and imported fare, and wondering about the different professions. Good news for a community like Chilliwack that’s predominantly driven by agriculture. These students could be Chilliwack’s future farmers, said Massie. They could be the ones boosting Chilliwack’s economy in years to come. Massie has plans to expand the program in the near future. He wants to utilize vacant school district land on Robertson Ave; further their partnership with UFV to include berry production, trial crops, and agriculture research; develop school and community gardens; and form partnerships with elementary schools in the district for the high school students to work with the younger students in further promoting agriculture. All for the benefit of his students. “Too many times I’ve overheard students say things like science is boring or how will this ever help me in real life, and unfortunately for many students, these statements come far too close to being true,” said Massie. “As a science teacher, I believe it is my job to make sure my classes are far from boring and always applicable to my students lives.”

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GORD GADSDEN • 32 Engaging stewards of tomorrow Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck Gord Gadsden can identify a mind-boggling 310 species of B.C. birds, most of them from the Upper Fraser Valley. With keen ears he can pick out about 160 different birds by song. Gadsden, 32, is a bit of a selfproclaimed bird geek. He’s also a resource technician for Fraser Valley Regional District Parks where he gets to share his considerable knowledge with the public. At night he works on his degree in Leadership and Management. In his FVRD parks role he takes care of the various regional sites from habitat restoration, to landscaping to removing invasive plant species. The goal is always maintaining the ecosystem. In his spare time he launched the local birders’ online site, Fraser Valley Birding, in 2005. “There were sites for Vancouver residents to share bird sightings and identifications,” he said. “But

this was an untapped base. I wanted to give local people an avenue to share, and it’s a great way to promote birds.” He was just always interested for as far back as he can remember. “I learned to read with a bird guide, to be honest.” He was about 5, and he would make feeders out of milk jugs to attract the winged creatures and became utterly captivated. He remembers duck hunting as a boy with his father, Chris Gadsden. Although he doesn’t hunt anymore he remembers there was “a high level of respect and understanding.” Later he’d go on fishing trips and be totally distracted by the birds in trees. One of the founders of the Chilliwack Field Naturalists, Denis Knopp, was an early mentor for him. There’s a fair bit of community outreach in the FVRD parks role he’s been in for 13 years. Getting kids interested potentially means creating the environmental stewards of the future.

Everything from running interpretive programs, to school projects like making wood duck boxes for the tiny wood ducks, as well as swallows, bats and owls. It’s about engaging youth and getting them interested in how the plants and animals in a park

interact. Often it’s something as simple as looking at tadpoles in their natural habitat. “If I can teach them something about the wildlife to make it meaningful, they’re likely to remember it,” he says. He tries to keep it

fresh, as the kids will sometimes come back a few different times over the years. “They might not understand it all but if you can appreciate how a ecosystem works, you might one day try to do what you could to keep it healthy.”

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JASON LUM • 30 Community engagement Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck Jason Lum was elected to city council with the third highest number of votes last year and he accomplished it at the relatively young age of 30. He took the election campaign seriously and came up with well-thought out responses at all-candidates’ meetings. “I found the campaign very exciting. It’s something I thought long and hard about,” he says. His current seat at the city council table is actually not his first time working at Chilliwack city hall. He was contracted to work for the IT department after a work experience session while still attending high school. What truly sets Chilliwack apart is its heart. “It’s the idea that in Chilliwack we’re still a community that takes care of each other.” He points to the contact centre project as an example of a healthy community project. He’s watching as council rep for the soon-tobe-built Chilliwack Health Contact Centre, which will provide wrap-around services including health services and housing. “It’s something people have been wait-

ing for and something I feel passionate about because it will serve the most needy in Chilliwack. But also it’s an example of people can collaborate to create something really good for the community.” Lum took the slow but sure route to public service. The proud Rotarian is a founding partner of Myriad Group of Companies, a tech consulting firm, and is the former president of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce. “After being asked to join the Chamber board, I found I was getting more and more involved in community work.” That’s something he made sure was written into the DNA of his company too. Lum has volunteered his time for Rotary causes, as well as those benefiting Chilliwack Community Services and Youth Services. “That’s when I started to get a feel for how important it is to be involved and working toward the good of the community on a volunteer basis.” His strong interest in history led him to working with the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. “So I guess I’ve always had a huge variety of activities and interests.” “When you see the kind of role local government plays in people’s lives, to me it was an extension of the community service work

I had already started, and I wanted to be part of the forward-thinking team on council.” This year at city hall he’ll be chairing the transportation committee and vice-chairing the mayor’s committee on housing, as well as the downtown plan implementation committee. He’s also vice-chair of the Fraser Valley Treaty Advisory Committee, and a

youth entrepreneur mentor with Canadian Youth Business Foundation. That will keep him hopping. It’s shaping up to get even busier this year but that’s ok. If Lum has something on the go at all times, he’s probably having fun. “I always say if you’re not busy, you’re not trying hard enough.”

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STEVE CLEGG • 27 Barking up the right tree Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck When Steve Clegg sees a fallen tree, he doesn’t see inconvenience or waste, he sees opportunity. For two years the 27-year-old owner of Clegg Woodcrafts has been creating freeformed sculptures, plaques and unique home decor out of salvaged and reclaimed wood. He’s acquired trees blown down by wind, left by loggers, cut down by local farmers, diseased by the Ponderosa pine beetle, and those destined to be burned. “None of the wood I use is from a lumber yard; each piece is either salvaged or reclaimed with a story behind it,” Clegg said outside his Ryder Lake shop. “I’m like a wood pack rat – I can’t throw anything out.” He’s also an active environmentalist. By using salvaged wood, Clegg avoids harming live trees. He also grows his own trees as a way of giving back to the environment for all its given him. To date, he’s grown over 250 native trees from seeds. “I feel that if I’m taking trees out of the

ecosystem, even though they’re ones that have already fallen they’re still part of the ecosystem, and I feel I should give back, compensate for what I’ve taken,” he said. “It goes full circle.” Clegg’s love affair with wood goes back as far as he can remember. Growing up, he spent hours with his dad tinkering away in the family’s wood shop. He

took woodworking courses in school, and instead of buying gifts, he made them. He started an arborist business after graduation, but shifted his focus a few years later and enrolled in BCIT’s marketing management entrepreneurship program. There, he was elected president of the Students in Free Enterprise Club, which under his leadership, organized a trade show for envi-

BILL TURNBULL • 26 Town butcher cresting locavore wave Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck Bill Turnbull, 26, is the first one to arrive at his downtown shop, the Town Butcher, and last to leave. He and his wife, Liv, a talented self-taught cook with a passion for interior design, launched The Town Butcher four years ago. Turnbull’s dream was to offer local, natural and hormone-free meat that he would custom cut for his clientele. He was only 22 and had a lot to prove to be taken seriously by the money-lenders. “In the first year, a month after we started the shop, the economy crashed,” he remembers. They didn’t buckle. Turnbull took on another job to keep them afloat, and worked it for 185 days straight. “Once the economy was in trouble, the banks didn’t want to lend us money. It was hard to stay afloat.” But they did more than just hang in there. They eventually started thriving. They now have a second full-time meat cutter on board, who can give Turnbull a break now and then, and maybe let him get back to skiing or judo. The award-winning business is making it now in part by staying true to the original vision, ensuring their high-quality beef, pork, chicken, lamb and turkey are raised locally or within a few hours drive. Turnbull researched the producers, the

feed, and how the animals are raised. He knew Chilliwack was ready to get on board the locavore trend. Another element is personalized service. Liv created to die-for ready-made deli items from the Sunshine Salad, to cheesy twicebaked potatoes and stuffed mushroom caps. There is also homemade stocks and sausages in the freezer. The shop is chic and chock full of appealing fare, the pricing was structured to keep “a nice, honest margin,” he said. But he knew the equipment would have to be paid off before they started making any money. “Sometimes you really have to take a hit the first few years to get your business right, and to build a client base from zero,” Turnbull says. The top-shelf quality had to be there, like triple AAA steaks even if there were some asking for lower cost options. The growth of the locavore niche coincided with a segment of Chilliwack starting to seek out the type of high-quality, local product lines they offer. “I noticed people were seeking out homemade products. Either they wanted it made for them or they wanted to make it themselves. The difference was a shift to good, healthy, homemade foods. Turnbull sees himself eventually buying a property and building a custom smokehouse to introduce his own line of deli meats like pepperoni, beef jerky and more. “We want to do one store and do it well with as much homemade product as possible.”

ronmentally friendly businesses, which continues today. Post graduation, Clegg was headhunted by BCIT to commercialize new technology. But after just a year in the position, he resigned. “Wearing a suit everyday, sitting in a cubicle, that just wasn’t my style,” he said. Clegg fell back on his love for the environment. He started the Fraser Valley Conservancy, a non-profit environmental consulting organization that promotes the protection of species at risk and assists private landowners in becoming better stewards of their land. In 2009, he opened Clegg Woodcrafts, where he features the live edges of wood, and retains the natural bark, shape and function of the wood in his products. Every piece he takes, he utilizes, whether it’s through his free-form sculptures, mirrors, or cutting boards. Wood chips he uses for fire kindling and sawdust he uses for mulch. In just two years, his unique style has been recognized locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. His creations have been picked up by Harvard Medical School, VANOC, BCIT, the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) Tour, David Suzuki, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, two U.S. senators, a retirement present for environmentalist Mark Angelo, and most recently by the deputy consul general of the Peoples Republic of China. “What I do has a lot of added work,” he said. “But it has lot of added value too.”


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TAWNYA WALSH • 38 Coming clean Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck When Tawnya Walsh kicked off her small soap-making venture, she never imagined it would change the face of Chilliwack. The 38-year-old first started making allnatural, chemical-free soaps for her son who readily developed eczema at the first touch of mass-produced, grocery store soaps. Soon, she realized she had a business in the making. “I had never heard about handmade soap, but because my son had a lot of eczema and dry skin problems, I started doing research on the soaps we were using,” said Walsh. “Most commercial soaps are not even called soaps because of the chemicals they use to colour and scent them. I wanted to take that out.” The owner of Rustic Soap Co. in Greendale wanted to be more than just a business owner, she wanted to be a community promoter. Twelve years in, that’s exactly what she’s become. When Walsh was invited to participate

in Chilliwack’s inaugural Christmas Craft Crawl 10 years ago, she didn’t think twice. The crawl was an event showcasing an

JUSTIN DALY • 30 We are Spartans Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck There is a board that hangs in the lobby of the Landing Leisure Centre. On it are names and times, a list of the best male swimmers in Chilliwack Spartan Swim Club history. Justin Daly is on that board as the owner of the all-time top times in the 11-12 and 13-14 year old boys

short and long track 100 and 200m breaststrokes. A decade and a half after he set those marks, they still stand. “There were a lot of very successful swimmers who came through the Spartans program, and I’m happy to have my name up there with them,” said the now 30-year-old UFV kinesology grad. “But when I look at that board now, I judge my success on whether I can get my name off of there.” For the last four years Daly

assortment of small, women-based businesses in Chilliwack. “The big thing was women promoting

has been the head coach of the Spartans. Before that he was an assistant under Vince Mikuska. Daly rises at 4 a.m. each morning and you’ll find him at the pool from 5 to 7 a.m. He’s back again most afternoons, investing so much time because he remembers how valuable swimming was for him. He learned time management by juggling the demands of school with the demands of the Spartans. He learned how to deal with success and failure. “When you’re in this for 10 years, you’re going to have your highs and lows, but you’d like to think that these kids can take some of the things they learned here and apply it to the rest of their life,” Daly said. Swimming is a sport in which the devil is in the details. Margins

of victory are measured in split seconds. Another lesson Daly imparts to his youthful charges is goal setting. “To quote (Vancouver Canucks coach) Alain Vigneault, it’s all about the process,” Daly explained. “Sometimes they’re disappointed, but when we set goals and stick with the process, it’s easier to find positives.” Daly has his top level swimmers and he takes pride in what they accomplish. But his biggest reward comes from small victories. “I’m happiest when the kids are happy about making finals or setting a new personal best,” he said. “I want all the kids to be happy, and I hope we’re setting them up to go on and do the best they can do in sports, school or whatever they want to do.”

PETE & NICOLE TUYTEL • 38 & 32 Simply outstanding Story | Robert Freeman Photo | Jenna Hauck Pete and Nicole Tuytel are keeping the country in Chilliwack. Named Outstanding Young Farmers in 2012, the couple’s ongoing devotion to excellence in dairy farming shows in every aspect of their life at their Elmbridge Farm home, and promises to inspire a whole new generation to carry on Chilliwack’s agricultural traditions. The Tuytels regularly “loan out” calves to

youngsters for showing in 4-H competitions, host 4-H events at their farm, and judge the efforts of up-and-coming young farmers. And their five-year-old daughter is already making a name for herself, winning a junior championship last year, while their 15-month-old son — “he’s already out there in a stroller,” Nicole proudly reports. All of which is good news for the community of Chilliwack, because it was the agricultural sector that kept the local economy from taking a nosedive along with so many others in the last recession. “People always need to eat, no matter

women in business,” she said. “Women are so competitive, and it was just nice to be encouraging each other and looking out for each other instead of being so catty towards one another.” When the original organizers moved on six years ago, Walsh, and Holly McKeen of Greendale Pottery took over. Now in its 10th year, the three-day crawl regularly brings in upwards of 600 attendees from Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission, Langley, Coquitlam, even as far out as North Vancouver – many of who are repeat visitors pushing dollars into the community. “We love highlighting new businesses and new artists in the area,” said Walsh. “That’s what the crawl’s about, keeping people connected with their community, with other businesses, bringing them new customers, and getting the word out.” Walsh is also a founder of the Greendale Sampler, which highlights where food comes from, and where locally made, one-of-a-kind products can be purchased. “We’re trying to educate people on what goes into naturally raised beef, chicken, cheese, milk,” said Walsh. “I think we’re far too removed from the end product nowadays. Knowledge is power. Hopefully this would make people question the products they use.”

what’s going on,” Pete agrees. Starting out with a small dairy and broiler farm in 1996, Pete, 38, and Nicole, 32, now operate a 70-acre dairy farm in west Chilliwack with 130 cows. “There’s a lot more than just milking cows,” Pete says, about life on a dairy farm. There’s growing the crops to feed the cows and managing the soils that feed the crops that feed the cows. And then breeding those cows to achieve the desired “confirmation” or how the cow is put together — it’s shape — which determines how well they will do in competitions. “That’s what we’re really into,” Nicole

says. “We enjoy milking cows and farming, but we like the generic end of it, breeding, trying to improve every generation of cattle we have,” says Pete. Last year, Pete was named a Master Breeder by Holstein Canada, becoming B.C.’s youngest-ever Holstein Master Breeder. The award is based on his achievements over the past 15 years. The Outstanding Young Farmer award also looked at the couple’s farm production, their financial progress, their farm’s impact on the environment and their community involvement. In November, they will go on to the national competition in Prince Edward Island. Farming also allows Pete and Nicole to stay close to each other as a family, set their own agenda, while contributing to the wellbeing of the broader community. “It’s a good place to raise a family,” Pete says. “You’re your own boss. You kind of make your own day ... I love it.”


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ALEX MCAULAY • 27 Under cover

In Grade 12, when sitting on the school district’s policy committee, he was enlightened to the failings of education. It blew his mind that some in his age group couldn’t read, and he wanted to make a difference. After graduation in 2002,

McAulay entered the election race for school trustee. He ran a vigorous campaign, spending the second most amount of money of all candidates running. “I took my student loans and invested them into the campaign – I wasn’t going to lose,” he said. “I had to get elected.” At 18, McAulay was the youngest school trustee to ever be seated at Chilliwack’s board table. “At that point in time, I didn’t know the difference between what right and left meant when we talk about a political spectrum,” he said. “All I cared about was trying to make every kid be able to read and comprehend reading.” McAulay knew that being a school trustee was not a career. And after three years, he opted not to seek re-election. He completed his schooling at UFV and became a chartered accountant in 2011. The year prior, he got on board with Naked. However, despite McAulay’s professional responsibilities, he didn’t stop sitting on advisory committees and community boards, didn’t stop boosting Chilliwack’s profile, didn’t stop trying to better the community. “Sitting on boards is not a normal thing for young guys to do,” he admitted. “But boards can make a serious difference, they really can.”

Getting new golfers involved. Growing a junior program. Top end training. A tall task, but one Greggain sees as doable. “It’s a big project, but it’s been

on mind for my long time,” she said. “There’s so much potential in Chilliwack and the facility at CG&CC. There’s such an opportunity here, and I’m so excited about moving forward with it.”

Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck Alex McAulay could very well be Chilliwack’s version of Steve Jobs. While he’s not in the technology business, and doesn’t have a closet full of mock turtlenecks, and his name is nowhere near as widespread as the man who repeatedly changed the face of the computer and technology industries, his drive, charisma, and sometimes frustratingly impassioned attention to detail and perfection is eerily similar to that of Jobs’. McAulay is 27 years old, and has already served a three-year term on Chilliwack school board, has obtained a chartered accountant degree, helped push for the University of the Fraser Valley’s university status, sat on the presidential search committee for UFV, is president of Chilliwack Community Services, and is the chief financial officer and vice president of an up-and-coming underwear line he says will conquer Calvin Klein. Big words. Jobs used similar words when comparing Apple to IBM, Apple to Microsoft, Apple to Google, Pixar

to Disney. “We have one of the finest made products in Canada,” he said of his Naked men’s underwear line. “People are tired of Joe Boxer, and Calvin Kleins have been in their drawers for 15 to 20 years. They’ve had a lot of success, and

they make good products, but we make better products. “I’m going to help turn Naked into a mega operation, a multimillion dollar company,” he said. McAulay has always been a go-getter, naturally gravitating towards leadership positions.

JENNIFER GREGGAIN • 35 Out of the rough Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck When Jennifer Greggain pulls out her crystal ball and peers into the future, she sees Chilliwack as a hub of golfing activity. She sees youngsters gravitating to the sport. She sees teenagers developing their skills on local courses before moving on to college programs and professional tours. She sees top flight golfers coming to Chilliwack to fine-tune their games. And the 35-year-old sees herself in the middle of it all, leading a golfing renaissance as the head instructor at the Chilliwack Golf and Country Club. “It starts with the children, and I’ve always wanted to see a thriving junior program here in the Fraser Valley,” Greggain said. “One of my goals is to get kids excited about golf and put golf clubs in the hands of kids who otherwise might not have that chance.” In September, Greggain and fel-

low instructor Val Beebe launched the SNAG (Starting New at Golf) program at Cheam Centre. Using engaging activities and colorful props, they made golf fun for a small group of students (eight the first time, 18 the second). “You give them a chance to explore the game and let them have fun,” she said. “You show them golf is more than ugly pants and strict rules.” As a player, Greggain has logged a decade of tour experience, including two on the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) circuit. She spent four years on the Futures Tour and has been playing on the CN Women’s Tour since 2004. Greggain’s TPI coaching certification allows her to provide instruction in everything golf. “As a player on tour, I always found it difficult to find the elite training and instruction that I needed. There really wasn’t a lot of better golf instruction, people using the innovative technology and teaching methods that are available,” she noted. “I’d like

offer that, and I’d like to offer coaching and mentoring for golfers to learn how to practice properly and prepare mentally, physically and strategically for tournament play.”


The Chilliwack Progress Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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JEFF ENGELBRECHT • 33 Family tradition Story | Greg Knill Photo | Jenna Hauck As Jeff Engelbrecht pulls open the steel door leading to the back shop at West End Autobody, there is pride in his voice. It’s the kind of humble satisfaction that comes from someone who respects his past, but looks forward to the future. At 33 years old, Engelbrecht is the third generation in the familyowned business. His great-uncle was one of the original owners back when the company operated out of a former roller rink on Yale Road. In 1973 his father bought the company. Then, three years ago the elder Engelbrecht chose to retire and Jeff Engelbrecht had an opportunity to carry on that tradition. That’s not something he always dreamt of doing, he admits. Like many young people, moving into the family business wasn’t a priority. At Chilliwack secondar y, Engelbrecht was an active youth.

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He liked sports and he liked being involved with his school. He served on student council, and when he graduated in 1996, he delivered the valedictorian address. When it came time to decide a direction for his life, he veered away from the autobody industry

and studied business at Simon Fraser University instead. But the door was always left open for him to return, Engelbrecht said. His father always made it clear that he was always welcome. Chilliwack did have a pull on Engelbrecht. Not only was he born

and raised here, but so were his parents; his grand-parents moved to Chilliwack after the Second World War. So move back to Chilliwack he did, and 10 years ago Engelbrecht began putting the business skills he gained at university to work at

home. The auto repair industry has changed much since those early years at the roller rink. Today, computers, and laser-assisted electronics are as much a part of the business as a cutting torch was years ago. Something that hasn’t changed, says Engelbrecht, is the need to provide outstanding customer service. “Our reputation in the community is way more valuable to us than any advertising,” he says. “We really think of the customer as our boss.” Ninety per cent of West End’s business comes from repeat customers or referrals. Engelbrecht also believes in giving back to the community that supports him by offering school bursaries, apprenticeship opportunities, and ongoing support for Chilliwack’s Restorative Justice program. Engelbrecht and wife, Lena have two little girls, aged three and five. And while it’s still too soon to know if they represent another generation at West End Autobody, “They love to play with cars,” Engelbrecht says with a laugh. “So who knows? Maybe one day, right?”


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CLARKE FRYER • 25 Awareness activist Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck Clarke Fryer didn’t grow up dreaming to be an activist, he just wanted the same rights and respect his heterosexual peers got. But being gay in Chilliwack, that was hard to come by. Eleven years after coming out, the 25-year-old is Chilliwack’s most prominent gay advocate. “There is so little support for people like me in Chilliwack,” said Fryer. “There really is nothing here.” He’s trying to change that. Fryer went through high school bullied. His car was keyed, his tires repeatedly deflated. Even his principal made him feel like an outcast when he was told not to bring a male date to the prom for the comfort of other students. The stress of the situation made Fryer physically ill. He avoided school, wasn’t eating, started los-

ing his hair. He was depressed, isolated, borderline suicidal. “It was eating away at me,” he said. But when he came out to his family, the dynamics of the situation changed. He started fighting back. With the help of his school counsellor, Fryer started the first GayStraight Alliance club at Sardis secondary in 2001, which is still running today. “I so badly wanted to meet other accepting people, people who had something in common with me,” he said. “There were so many things I struggled with, so many things I wanted to talk about, so many questions I had.” While Fryer is humbled that the club is still operating, he’s disappointed and frustrated that not much has changed in the last 10 years. Kids are still being bullied; still being called names; still committing suicide; and in some cases still not receiving support in the classroom. “As soon as someone makes a racist or sexist remark in class, the teacher shoots it down right away, but when someone says something

like ‘that’s so gay’ it’s like they pretend not to hear it – and that’s unacceptable,” he said. This year, Fryer started doing public awareness speeches in high schools, using his story as a

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platform for building acceptance. He also started an email support group, and has organized a weekly drop-in for the gay community. As well, he’s looking to start a campaign to push the school dis-

trict into providing more support in schools for the LGBTQ community. “I have to do something, because if nobody steps up, it’s never going to get better,” Fryer said.

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PETE PARROTTA • 35 Leading the cheer Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck Pete Parrotta bristles when the topic of cheerleading misconceptions is raised. In many people’s minds, the vision of the cheerleader is still that of a pretty girl in a skimpy outfit, placed on the sideline as eye candy while the real athletes do their thing. “There’s the misconception that it’s the pom-pom, booty-shaking thing,â€? he says, frowning. “But it’s not that anymore. It has become its own sport.â€? Four years ago, the 35-year-old opened Pacific Allstar Cheerleading with an original group of 28 kids. Within four walls at 45778 Gaetz St., enrollment has since ballooned into the 70s. Kids between the ages of four to 19 jump, tumble and flip in ways your stereotypical cheerleader never could.

“The biggest thing for me is seeing kids come in without skills and seeing them leave with skills,� Parrotta says. “I get jazzed when I see the smiles on their faces and

they’re yelling, ‘Mom! Mom! Look at this!’ Knowing I helped them get there, that’s what I look forward to every day.� Parrotta’s crew wins trophies

wherever they compete. But the biggest competition is Parrotta’s own Pacific Allstar Cheer Championships. In mid-January, teams from here

there and everywhere trek to the Valley for the largest single-day event at Heritage Park. The most recent event drew between 1,700 and 2,000 athletes and between 4,000 and 5,000 spectators. It requires an army of volunteers to pull off and generates big bucks for the local economy. And if Parrotta has his way, it’s only going to get bigger. “I’m pretty stoked about what it’s become, and the next step is to add a second day that involves some of the local dance programs,� he says. Beyond that, Parrotta also hopes to bring cheerleading into schools, involving kids who can’t afford to get involved otherwise. “It has opened up so many doors for me, and I’d like to open up doors for them,� says Parrotta, who has used his cheerleading expertise to land choreography work on movies and television. “I went to the University of Hawaii on a full athletic scholarship, and many colleges and universities offer full or partial scholarships. That’s available to any of these kids if they work hard at it. As much as I can be a positive influence, that’s what I want to do.�

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ZACHARY CLAY • 16 Eyes on the Olympics Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck Zachary Clay is the youngest in our Forty Under 40 section, but his long stack of achievements make him an easy selection as one of Chilliwack’s young guns. Training and competing under the banner of Abbotsford’s Twisters Gymnastics, the 16-year-old has developed into an elite athlete. In late February, he traveled to Mississauga, Ontario and dusted national competition to become the Elite Canada junior all-around champion. In mid-March he represented Canada at the 2012 Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, placing ninth all-round. He won his first national event at 13 years old, taking the tyro title in Kamloops, and each significant win has come against older competition.

Seven months ago, Clay was short-listed for a potential spot on Canada’s 2016 Olympic team. If Canada qualifies, the Chilliwack kid may one day be hopping on an airplane bound for

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “I’m surprised at where I’ve gotten to,” Clay admitted. “Being short-listed for the Olympics, it’s a good feeling and something I wasn’t expecting. I was shocked.

ERIN MINTER • 34

Growing concern Story | Robert Freeman

Erin Minter is growing the family gardening business for a new generation more at home with tweeting than weeding, but at the same time she’s keeping the older generation satisfied. And when the energetic 34-year-old isn’t tending the marketing-side of Minter Country Gardens, she’s serving this community as a search and rescue volunteer. “It’s nice to see people are getting back into the garden,” Minter says. “You can see it starting to come back,” she says excitedly, like a gardener talking about the first signs of spring. “People are gardening more,” she goes on. “They’re getting their kids out into the garden. They’re doing things from seeds.” Minter’s challenge is to use the emerging marketing tool of social media to “reach out” to that young audience, but at the same time deliver the quality and service the older generation expects. They still come to the family store, Minter says, “but now you’ve got this new generation of gardeners who haven’t really done it before, and they’re starting from scratch — so, it’s what’s cool and new and funky and reliable for them to get into gardening and starting to like it. While keeping that connection with the older generation that knows what they’re doing.”

“They’re still out there and wanting to experiment a little bit, too,” she says. “It’s cool. It’s kind of like, it’s both ends of the spectrum right now, because there’s so much opportunity.” By that, Minter means the development of new low-maintenance plants, virtually guaranteed not to turn-off novice gardeners by stubbornly wilting, and horticultural advances that make gardening fit more easily into modern lifestyles. Minter went to university with archeology on her mind, but switched to commerce and was soon working as an industrial management consultant. But the corporate world didn’t suit her — and Chilliwack beckoned. In a smaller-size business, Minter explains, she can apply what she has learned in a very hands-on way. “It’s not huge corporate bucks,” she says. “You can jump right in and do it, make sure that things happen.” Much like growing your own tomato plant. Minter says gardening was “obviously” part of the Minter family lifestyle, and it still fascinates her. “I remember having a garden when I was little,” she says. “I still have one, too. The first tomato that ripens every year is like, ‘Oh, my God! Come and look at my tomato!’” “It doesn’t matter, every year, it’s always the same, it’s always fun.” But with so many demands on her time, Minter says she can also totally relate to the frustrations of that new generation of gardeners. “If you have blight, I can understand what you’re talking about,” she says.

Just blown away.” Clay logs 20 hours a week at Twisters, honing his techniques. But without his natural gifts, hard work would only get him so far. His father Joe knew very early

that his son had the stuff to be special. “He was three years old and he would eat a sandwich standing on his head, and we thought that was a little odd,” Joe laughed. When he was in pre-school, his teacher marveled at his ability to do perfect cart-wheels. She recommended enrolling Clay in gymnastics, so his parents took him to Flip City in Langley. At first, Flip City didn’t want to take the four-and-a-half year old. ‘Boys that age are too hyper and un-focused,’ they said. “One day they called us into the office and we’re thinking, ‘This is it. They’re kicking him out,’” Joe said. “Instead, they say to us, ‘Do you mind if we move him up a level and put him into pre-competitive?’” And off he went. “I do it because I like it, and I’ve always liked it,” he said. “It’s hard work and some days are tougher than others. After a two-day competition, my hands are sore and my shoulders, legs and back are just destroyed. But I’ve been to so many places and met so many people through gymnastics. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

ALAN POETTCKER • 27

Making it in the music biz Story | Jennifer Feinberg

Sardis Secondary grad Alan Poettcker, better known as the bassist of power-pop band These Kids Wear Crowns, remembers the phone call that changed everything. They were invited to Toronto to appear on DisBand the Much Music TV reality show. That drew industry big-wigs and catapulted them into the powerpop stratosphere — after being signed to record label Capitol/EMI the following year. “It hasn’t stopped since that phone call in 2009,” he says. Their latest single is This Party Never Stops, and that could be the band’s theme song in some ways. They’ve been back and forth across Canada 10 times. They’ve experienced screaming fans, photo-ops, limos, and red carpet walks. But several band members still call Chilliwack home. Poettcker, 27, was born in Edmonton and moved to Chilliwack when he was in Grade 4. He and his high-school buddy, leader singer Alex Johnson, write most of the songs along with Matt Vink and the other band members. He learned the finer points of bass guitar from music teacher Barry Eggen at Vedder Middle.

The band has played across North America, Australia and Singapore in the last two years. Their record went gold in Canada and platinum in Australia. Being able to come home to Chilliwack to decompress from the road is much appreciated, and it keeps him grounded. Poettcker says he likes to hang with friends and family, grab some Jim’s Pizza or go for Korean at the Fireside Grill. A night of bowling at the Chillibowl is not unheard of and Cultus Lake is a favourite spot. Chilliwack is also where he writes and produces, in the home studio. “Literally I get home and sit in the studio and record and write,” he says. “Sometimes it’s not easy or happy.” All the money he’s earned so far from music has pretty much gone back into the recording studio for gear. “I’m reinvesting it all into my career.” The secret, if there is one, to making it, is all about the songwriting. Without excellence in song craft, he says, don’t even bother booking the photo shoot or going out on tour anywhere. He’s proud of coming from Chilliwack and happy the Fraser Valley has become a hotbed for other young performers like Marianna’s Trench, Hedley and Carly Rae Jepsen. Poettcker figures he’ll just keep doing what he’s been doing. “I’m always writing and producing songs for other people.” No time to rest. They’re back in Australia touring with Limp Bizkit and System of a Down. “I’m looking forward to it.”


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DESMOND DEVNICH • 21 Smiles are free from Des Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck

For BIA coordinator Desmond Devnich, 21, the best thing about his hometown of Chilliwack is the people. “You can travel around to other cities, but I think we’re about the friendliest.” It’s fitting because he embodies the friendly personality and warmth of a devoted people person. The dynamo has been meeting and greeting folks for the Downtown Chilliwack BIA since July 2011, coordinating Party in the Park, Village Classic, Christmas in the City, and the GETMOR rewards program. He’s working on his communications degree at University of the Fraser Valley, where he was also Student Life events coordinator for the Chilliwack campus. “I believe that every one of us is richly blessed with talents and

resources that can be used to better the lives of others.” He’s refreshingly not naive about it. “Look I know I’m not saving lives here. I work with non-profits, and every day I make people smile.”

Last year he earned an “outstanding service award” from UFV presented by UFV president Mark Evered. He knows Chilliwackians take their community service to heart. “That’s Chilliwack for you,” he

says. “It’s our background and our faith.” His positive outlook is catching. With a communication background, he was quick to get on Facebook and Twitter to help the BIA to get the word out to help

folks get more involved in their own community. “I love its history, and not just historic downtown Chilliwack, but all of it.” He sits on the Chilliwack and District Agricultural Board and appreciates the agricultural roots of the community. “It’s the basis of our economy and our lifestyle as the city in the country.” He’s also president-elect for the Chilliwack Fraser Rotaract Club, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chilliwack-Fraser, and Relay for Life Committee co-chair for the Canadian Cancer Society in Chilliwack. Not enough? He plans to support events for the Chilliwack Hospice Society, Chilliwack Community Services, and Chilliwack Hospital and Health Care Foundation. But he doesn’t do any of it for the glory. “I’m an action taker,” he says. “I also get excited about things when others are excited. When I can find and connect with others who are passionate about the same things I am, it can only build from there.”

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KAILA MUSSELL • 33 In the saddle Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck Kaila Mussell, 33, is living the dream as the only professional female saddle bronc rider on the continent. “I’ve been rodeoing since I was 11 years old, so I’m going on 23 years of rodeo.” It wasn’t really a stretch that she’d end up in professional rodeo. “It may have been inevitable because my dad rodeoed, rode broncs and bulls, and my mom was a rodeo queen.” She got into riding broncs after tiring of barrel racing. She was too old to ride steers but wanted to stay in the roughstock, and needed a new challenge. “I was drawn to it because I didn’t know of any women that currently rode, especially in the modern style of saddle bronc riding,” she says. Her dad and brother were riding at the time. Mussell is literally breaking new ground on the circuit, and she knows it. “I realize that I’m breaking ground. To be honest, I have only come across maybe half a dozen women that even say that they have got on, never mind ridden at a competitive

level, over all the years that I’ve been riding. “I am still the first and only female to earn her pro status as a saddle bronc rider.” That alone makes her a role model. “It has more recently hit me that I am a great role model for all people, proving that anything is possible if you set your mind to something and have the drive to carry it through.” The droves of people friending her and commenting on Facebook have helped her recognize the support she has from everyone. She’s injury-free after nursing and rehabbing a dislocated left shoulder last summer. “It still is weak and I have to work hard at keeping it as strong as possible. I will likely require surgery again on it but am postponing that as long as possible.” Keeping physically fit is crucial. Core and strength training are a big part of her fitness routine, along with running, interval training and stretching. “You have to stay in shape to deal with the impact of the sport on your body, along with keeping you agile for what you do.” Do young riders ask you for advice? “It happens all the time. The best advice I have would be to make sure to follow your dreams if that is what you truly want, it doesn’t necessary have to do with riding broncs. “Don’t let anyone crush your aspirations, believe in yourself and have enough faith in

Congratulations to Chilliwack’s Top 40 Under 40

your abilities and know if you set your mind and heart to it, it could come to pass. Life is too short not to at least attempt that.” She travelled down to Florida recently and has been rodeoing with Team Phoenix. How did you find Team Phoenix Rodeo? “They found me.” Team owner Jonetta Everano out of Rickland, Oregon was looking to expand the

team and needed a saddle bronc rider. “She was impressed with my abilities while competing down here in Florida.” Mussell’s going for it while down south and will be back in the ‘Wack next month. “Always be true to yourself. Only you know what you want and what works for you. “This is your life, make the most of it!”

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JOEL TOBIN • 34 Connecting with youth Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck When Joel Tobin walks into Sardis secondary school in his RCMP gear, he knows the uniform he wears is an impediment to his job. “I think people just see it as an institute, and they don’t even see the person,” the 34-year-old says. As school liaison, he’s there to steer students in the right direction. But if they won’t talk to him, how can he do it? You start doing stuff with them with the uniform off, and it gets broken down pretty quick,” Tobin says. “They see you and they’re not afraid of you. They come up and talk to you and all of a sudden the other kids think, ‘Well, he can’t be that bad because so-and-so is talking to him’.”

Tobin’s biggest trust-building move was to start an Olympic lifting club at the school. Operating out of the weightroom at first before moving to the

Cross-Fit facility (45778 Gaetz St.), the class was about fitness on the surface. Beneath the surface, it was about a whole lot more.

“The idea came from a Youth in Gangs conference, where I listened to people who were involved with gangs,” Tobin explains. “The thing that stuck out in their mind

is they had nothing to belong to. If they had a club or something they enjoyed doing and got satisfaction out of it, that would have been a positive. In the end they found it somewhere else where it was a negative.” Tobin’s work extends beyond Sardis secondary school. He also works with youth probation cases. “One is a youth who’s been in trouble with the law,” Tobin says when asked about tangible results. “If he gets in a situation where he feels he’s going to get in trouble by breaching his conditions, he can talk about it before he ends up back at the youth detention centre where he hates to be. We’re trying to get him going in right direction, and the Olympic lifting club is a tool.” It is tough work, and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But at the end of the day, Tobin is comfortable knowing that he has helped to make a difference. “You can only do so much and sometimes you have to be happy with what you do,” he says. “I’m happy knowing this has become a positive place for them to come.”

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FORTY UNDER 40 JAMIE MACDONALD • 33 Reaching out Story | Robert Freeman Jamie Macdonald is helping young people get back onto the right track as a volunteer mentor at the Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Society. Like all the society’s volunteer mentors, Macdonald is helping

keep young people out of the clutches of crime, and bringing victims a sense of justice that’s often denied them by the courts. But unlike other mentors, Macdonald wasn’t looking for a volunteer position as part of a highschool program or as a good way to fill out retirement days when he walked into the society’s office nine years ago. Inspired by other Chilliwack volunteers, he just wanted to do more with his life - to make a difference.

“I never had a problem finding work. I’ve always had a job,” he says. “I just wanted to do something different.” Something that would help make Chilliwack a better place. The restorative justice program was that something. “It reaches out to young people,” Macdonald explains. “It allows young people to learn from their actions.” He says a 12- or 15-year-old kid caught shoplifting or vandalizing property, “they know what they’re doing is wrong ... but they’re only seeing it from inside the box.” “They don’t see how people are affected,” he says. “They don’t see how their parents are affected ... so

it’s a huge learning opportunity for them. I like that.” The restorative justice program is also “respectful toward the people who have been victimized,” Macdonald says, by giving them a role to play in making sure offenders are held accountable for their actions. But instead of a criminal record or the “meaningless” consequences often imposed by courts, wayward youth in the restorative justice program come face-to-face with the people they’ve hurt, and they learn how to apologize, an important lesson for everyone in a civil society. “People are going to make mistakes in their life,” Macdonald says.

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“It may not have something to do with crime — you could offend somebody at work.” So how to “own up” for inappropriate actions is an important lesson for everyone. “A lot of young people, they don’t know how to say they’re sorry,” Macdonald says. Like all the society’s monitors, Macdonald is too modest to claim any special skills or life-altering successes with the young people he’s mentored over the past nine years, but it’s clear his commitment to the community has made a difference in many lives, in many ways. “I love Chilliwack,” he says.

CHRIS LES • 29 Taking care of business Story | Greg Knill

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Chris Les admits he got a few “sideways looks” when he made the decision to join Fraser Valley Meats. At the time, Les was working in personal and commercial finances for a local bank. He had been there just a couple of years after completing the fouryear business administration program at the University of the Fraser Valley. Business was his passion, and the experience fortified his education. But he wasn’t sure the banking industry was the right fit for him. Banks like mobility, he says, and he and his new wife, Carina (whom he had married while the two were still students at UFV) weren’t eager to leave Chilliwack. When an opportunity in sales became available at Fraser Valley Meats he made the move. “I went from commercial finance, to selling meat,” he says with a smile. It’s a move he’s never regretted. Fraser Valley Meats have been around for more than 40 years. In addition to its retail outlets, the company also has a large wholesale division, which recently changed its name to Meadow Valley Meats to reflect its expansion outside the valley. Les learned as much

as he could while in the sales department. Then, after two years, he was approached by the company’s general manager (who was looking to step away from the business) and asked if he would be interested in the position. Les agreed, and at 29 is now general manager of Meadow Valley Meats and the retail Fraser Valley Meats. The learning curve has been steep, he admits. But he remains a student of business, and this career path has afforded him the ability to explore all aspects of his craft. “I don’t think you can ask for a better place to learn business,” he says. “I’m trying to soak up everything I can.” Les doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge the support he’s had getting to where he is and the people who have shown confidence in him. “This company is full of great people who all know more about meat than I’ll ever know,” he says. “I rely on them, and lean on them for that knowledge.” He is also grateful for the understanding and support from his family. “My family is something very important to me.” Finding the right balance between business and family (and his other passion, sports) can be a challenge. But getting the mix right – without sacrificing one for the other – is key to leading a full and successful life, he says.


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GEOFF SACHE • 35 Farm and football a family matter Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck

For Geoff Sache, life in Chilliwack can be summed up in the three F’s. Farming. Family. Football. If agriculture represents the underlying fabric of Chilliwack, then farmers are the needle and thread that tie it all together. A soft-spoken father of four, Sache represents the next generation of Chilliwack farmers — a local kid who grew up on the family dairy farm and now follows in his father’s footsteps, working on that 70 acre plot of land 12 hours a day, seven days a week. “If you grow up around it, it comes naturally to you, and there are quite a few young farmers around Chilliwack who are in the same situation as me,” the 35-yearold said. “It’s what their dads and grand-dads did. It’s what they do. If you’re not born into it, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to wind

up working on a dairy farm.” That said, Geoff Sache doesn’t farm just because Jim Sache farms. He does it because he likes it. And for all the long days, Sache juggles his duties well enough to spend lots of time with his wife Natalie and kids Mya, Malachi, Mason and Maddock. His other baby is his football team, the Chilliwack Huskers. A longtime football coach and player, Sache stepped away from the sidelines two years ago, succeeding his father as team president. The Huskers present more challenges that he’ll ever find on the farm, starting with back to back 0-10 seasons and a community that sometimes doesn’t seem to care. But Sache cares, a lot. He hopes the day comes soon when the Huskers have turned things around, and local kids dream of wearing the black and green jersey. “That starts with showing the

city that we’re here, because a lot of people don’t even know the club exists,” he said. “If we show them we’re not just a team on a

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AMBER SHORT • 33 Power of literacy Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck Amber Short couldn’t imagine a world without books; her whole life has been centred around them. One of her earliest memories is of religiously dragging a battered orange suitcase to the librar y every week in which she overfilled with books. Picture books. Novels. Adventure. Myster y. Historical. Years later, the 33-year-old coowner of The Book Man, still loves the adventures found exploring the stacks of used bookshops. “Reading transforms you, it takes you away from yourself, it expands your world,” said Short. “A life without access to countless tomes would be like being locked behind a door that opens to the most incredible possibilities.” Some kids, however, don’t have that same access or love for the world of books. Short is trying to change that. She’s a board member of the Early Years Literacy Society,

and sits on the executive of the Chilliwack Community Learning Society, which has a mandate of boosting literacy in the city. The Book Man is also a strong supporter of school literacy programs, and regularly donates quality, used books to the Lady Bug book bins, an honour system that enables all children to read for free. “It’s an easy cause to get behind,” Short said. Research shows that early literacy success defines success later in life. But those who struggle with reading and comprehension often struggle in their adult years. “Think about it, if everything around you was written in Arabic, it would be insane,” Short said. “Without literacy, you don’t have the tools to decode the world around you. You need it to communicate, write, use a computer, for numeracy, for transactions in a store, reading a menu, reading street signs, following directions – it encompasses everything.” But even though Chilliwack has a wealth of literacy-boosting

programs, many don’t know they exist. “If people don’t know about these programs, they can’t reap the benefits from them,” said Short, who started an awareness campaign with Shaw TV last year.

“We all write our own stories in each moment of our lives, and I know that many chapters in mine wouldn’t have been half as fun to live, or as interesting to look back on with the capacity for considering the impossible that books

brought to my imagination. “I have howled with laughter, sobbed as though my heart were breaking, found friends that have stayed with me through my life to date – all within the pages of books.”

DAVID JIMMIE • 34

LUKE ZACHARIAS • 38

Role model

Helping people

Story | Robert Freeman David Jimmie says he knew from a very early age that he wanted to do something for his community. Now, as Chief of the Squiala First Nation, he’s helping guide the community in its transition from a small reserve on the outskirts of Chilliwack to a major player in the city’s economy. “I knew at a young age that I would get involved in my community at some higher level,” he says. “I don’t how to explain it, it’s just something you kind of know,” the quiet-spoken 34-year-old chief says. “It might have been from relationships within the community or it might have been the way I interacted with people, but I just sort of sensed I’d become involved.” Jimmie says he was fortunate to be able to go to the University of the Fraser Valley, take on challenging work as a forest firefighter and as a teacher’s assistant, and then join a construction company developing properties on First Nations lands. When the construction boom started to taper off in 2008, he says he decided it was a good time to follow a personal dream. “I bought an around-the-world ticket and travelled to 17 countries in eight months,” he says. That experience opened his eyes to the wider world, and gave him time to reflect on his own values and what is important to him.

“It was along that trip that I realized that I would come home and try to help in some way,” he says. First, he was hired as the band’s lands manager, and in that position joined the Squiala negotiation team that hammered out an agreement with the Property Development Group that led to the multi-million dollar Eagle Landing shopping mall. The 50/50 partnership kick-started the Squiala economy, created muchneeded jobs in Chilliwack, and put the city front and centre on the retail map of the Fraser Valley. But Jimmie felt his university education and construction experience gave him more to offer the band, so he ran for election as chief. Now, he’s helping guide the band as it looks into a new corporate structure that will build on the success of Eagle Landing. “We don’t want Eagle Landing to be it,” Jimmie says. “We want to always keep our eyes open if there’s opportunities somewhere else, investment-wise, or even in Chilliwack. There’s nothing stopping us from buying surrounding properties.” Meanwhile, Eagle Landing also brought benefits to the larger Chilliwack community. “Chilliwack is running out of space,” Jimmie says, and the development on Squiala land allowed new businesses to open here, keeping shoppers from spending their money elsewhere and creating much-needed jobs. But Jimmie hopes his main accomplishment as chief will be as a role model for young Squiala band members. “If I can do something like that, give the youth of the community something to see, that would be great,” he says.

Story | Greg Knill For many, Luke Zacharias was living the dream life: A lawyer working for a prestigious Vancouver law firm, living in the West End not far from Kitsilano Beach. However, for the 38-year-old Chilliwack native, when it came time to start a family, he turned his attention back home. Zacharias grew up on a threeacre property in Promontory, so the prospect of raising kids in a high-rise condo in downtown Vancouver didn’t appeal to him. Zacharias left the law firm he articled for after graduating from UBC to join Baker Newby in Chilliwack. He was made a partner less than two years later. He says moving back was the best decision he ever made. “I feel so fortunate,” he says. “I really love my job.” Zacharias didn’t set out to be a lawyer. He graduated from the University College of the Fraser Valley with a bachelor of arts degree back in 1999. He studied history, and at one time thought about a career in teaching. But when he was encouraged to consider law, and wrote the arduous entrance exams, he found the profession fit neatly with one of his passions: helping people. Zacharias specializes in civil and com-

mercial litigation. He enjoys guiding clients through the complexities of the legal system, and representing them in court if necessary. “Law is all about helping people,” he says, “and that’s very fulfilling.” But Zacharias doesn’t confine his legal skills to the courtroom. It is knowledge that can offer assistance elsewhere in the community, like in his role as vice-president of the Chilliwack Community Services. The organization, which employs more than 100 people and draws on a $6 million budget, plays a critical role in addressing a whole range of needs in Chilliwack. Zacharias is also a member of the Mount Cheam Rotary Club and serves on the club’s “Chilliwack Children’s Foundation.” “I have a passion for helping people – people in need,” he explains. The Children’s Foundation helps direct funds to children in the community who need it most. It helps send local kids to leadership camps, covers medical and dental expenses, provides funding for sports programs, plus a host of other initiatives. Being involved with these groups, says Zacharias, helps him fulfill his goal of giving back to his community. “It’s consistent with what I want to be as a person.” In his spare time Zacharias can often be found at the gym. He was introduced to weight lifting while a student at UBC and keeps it up today. “I really enjoy it,” he says. “It’s a great stress release.”


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ALANNA CLEMPSON • 32

Building a community around food Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck Alanna Clempson, 32, has been making the backyard garden “front and centre” in Chilliwack. “Everyone has something positive to say about our front food garden,” she says. “It draws so

much interest.” She and her family dug up the lawn surrounding their Fairfield Island home to plant healthy food crops out front. It’s part conversation starter, part teaching opportunity — and all about food security. Food security asks the pivotal question of where the food we eat comes from, and how it’s produced,

emphasizing the importance of choosing local, seasonal food. “It’s important for families to grow and cook food together; to talk about life cycles of plants and bugs. It’s all-around better to have these skills.” For Clempson, it all started out as an intense love of flowers. She kept a veggie garden wherever

she lived. It blossomed into a focus on food on a broader scale. “I love to talk to our neighbours as we tend our gardens every summer. There’s so much to be learned from seniors.” There is always some new trick to learn about amending the soil or companion planting. “For me this year, it’s the importance of mulching.” A garden always yields something beautiful. It feeds the family, smells good, and there’s even a rich spiritual dimension to it for Clempson. “It’s so peaceful to spend time there. I find it’s a way to listen to God.” A couple of years ago, she’d been looking for a way to connect with community around some of these ideas, and the Food Matters Chilliwack network fit the bill. It offered the chance to raise awareness with other like-minded community members about getting back to the essentials of growing healthy food in a sustainable way. “Food security has become a huge issue for our society because so much of that valuable knowledge has been lost.” She started off coordinating gleaning projects with unharvested or unused food, and last summer launched Plant A Row Grow A Row for Food Matters Chilliwack. Plant A Row veggies were

donated to the Chilliwack Salvation Army’s Food Bank, and various recipients received nuts and fruit in the case of gleaning. Plant a Row encourages gardeners to plant some food crops for personal use, as well as growing root vegetables for soups and stews to feed the hungry and homeless of Chilliwack at the same time. “We’re trying to create opportunities for people who live in Chilliwack to get reconnected with the earth. “We have so much land that could be productive.” Gleaners are heading into their third season of food redistribution, including nut and fruit crops. The first year they participated in 21 gleaning sessions, and 30 the second year. The bounty was shared between the property owners, the gleaners and the receiving partners in a three-way split. More than 130 people registered for the first Plant a Row season last summer, and they’re heading into the second year of the program with an April 21 kickoff on earth day. More than 70 PARGAR growers were given some seeds, seed potatoes and pointers for the first season. “The success is really in the people, the turnout, the relationships that are created. It was about the spark, not in the number of pounds of veggies that are brought in, although that’s important, too. “It’s about so much more.”

lose gracefully.” When he’s 60 years old, Mouritzen still sees himself logging 80 hours a week to make GWG the best. “I want to build a culture where

these kids are proud to be GWG students,” he said. “I believe GWG should and will be forever known as one of the top schools in the province athletic wise. You build it and they will come.”

JAKE MOURITZEN • 35 Working to make Grizzlies great Story | Eric Welsh Photo | Jenna Hauck If you were to cut Jake Mouritzen, there’s a very good chance that he would bleed blue and white. That’s how much passion he has for the G.W. Graham Grizzlies, and that’s why he has the school on the cusp of athletic greatness. With Mouritzen coaching the boys and his wife, Sarah, coaching the girls, GWG’s basketball teams have become provincial contenders. In the face of budget cutbacks, Mouritzen initiated an athletics fundraising committee to make sure every team in the school has the money it needs. The latest Mouritzen mission might be the biggest of all as GWG launches a high school football program in the fall (the first in Chilliwack since the 1970s). Schools across the province are now watching nervously as the Grizzlies start to realize their massive potential. “I get up every morning at a

quarter to five and I’m at work at 5:30 a.m. and it’s easy to come here,” Mouritzen said. “I love the staff. I love the kids. I love the direction that we’re going and the challenges that we face. And even on those days when there are challenges and struggles, I’m happy that I’m a part of solving them.” From day one in 2006, Mouritzen’s goal has been bigger than just placing a bunch of provincial banners in the school gymnasium. He wants GWG to produce elite student-athletes. Emphasis on student. “Athletics is a tool that motivates them to be at school and be successful in the classroom,” Mouritzen elaborated. “I was an all-Canadian student-athlete at the University of Victoria, and those are among the best experiences of my life.” And if that results in a whole bunch of pretty provincial banners in the school gymnasium? “I think setting high goals is an important part of teaching stu-

dents to strive to be the best that they can be,” the Sardis secondary school alum noted. “But it’s not win at all costs. It is winning properly, and when we’re not successful, it’s teaching them how to


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JASON ARNOLD • 38 Team support Story | Greg Knill Photo | Jenna Hauck Jason Arnold never had any doubt he’d be in the automotive industry one day. His father worked for General Motors and his grandfather worked for General Motors. Arnold grew up in Ontario, in the part of the province where the heart of Canada’s car industry beats the strongest. By age seven he was on the road with his father to trade shows, dealerships and conventions. “I’ve been in the car business my whole life; I’ve been immersed in it,” the 38-yearold says with a smile. “It’s what I know.” Today Arnold is an active Chilliwack Rotarian and is the general manager of the Mertin Auto Group in Chilliwack, which includes dealerships in not only General Motors products, but also Nissan and Hyundai. The company, which includes a leasing division and collision repair, employs about 200 people. Arnold moved here in 2007 with his wife Katherine Browne and their two boys, Morgan and Evan, ending a string of promotions that meant six moves in nine years. The stability is welcomed.

But more so is the opportunity to succeed in an industry he loves. For that, he doesn’t hide his gratitude for the confidence others have shown in him. “While I work hard, hard work is only as good as the opportunities people give you,” he says.

“I’ve been very fortunate that people have had faith in me.” He credits an “outstanding management team” at Mertins for any success he might enjoy, and in particular the friendship and support from owner Harry Mertin and the

entire Mertin family. One management tenant imparted to Arnold from Harry Mertin is the importance of satisfied employees. It’s something he takes very seriously. It means concern for more than the 200 individuals employed by Mertins, but also the 200 families the company is a part of. Satisfied employees are necessary if a business hopes to have satisfied customers, Arnold insists. And satisfied customers allow Mertins to fulfil another key obligation. “If you have satisfied customers you should be able to give back to the community.” Arnold graduated with a degree in commerce from McMaster University and at one point contemplated a career in accounting. Although he chose a different path, he still appreciates the elegance and exactitude of the field. “The financial mind you develop doing that work pays impressive dividends,” he says. But all the education and training doesn’t matter if you don’t have a strong team behind you - a team that includes a supportive family. “You sure can’t do it alone. You can’t do anything on your own, I don’t care who you are,” Arnold says.

KIM MCLANDRESS • 33 ALEC JANSSENS • 20 ‘Healing’ model of justice Story | Robert Freeman A victim of crime when she was 16 years old, Kim McLandress says her day in court left her with the uneasy feeling that something was not quite right with the process. “I knew something was wrong with it, but I didn’t know what at the time,” she says. “I felt re-victimized ... I never got to say anything.” Flash-for ward three years when McLandress is a college student in Calgar y, Alber ta, and she’s introduced to something called “restorative justice” or court diversion as it was then more commonly called. She is immediately hooked, and asks her professor how she can learn more. “For me, I just said, ‘Where do I go? How do I do this? This makes sense to me, this concept. I need to be involved with it.’” The professor suggests McLandress take a look at

a restorative justice program just getting under way in Chilliwack. So McLandress moves here, enrolls at the UniversityCollege of the Fraser Valley, and in 2000 starts working a student practicum at the fledgling Chilliwack Restorative Justice Society. Funding was always a problem in the society’s early days, so McLandress stays on as a volunteer. Later, when funds are available, she is hired as program coordinator. Now she is the executive director. “I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing,” she says. Because the restorative justice model gives first-time, nonviolent offenders a chance to “own up to their actions,” she says, while giving victims a role in forming “meaningful consequences” that will drive home the lesson. The restorative justice model often includes a faceto-face meeting with the victim, which can have a power-

ful personal impact on the offender. “Hopefully, this helps them make better decisions in the future,” McLandress says. According to the research, it does. Fewer young offenders re-offend after going through a restorative justice program than those who go through the courts. The Chilliwack program, which will see its 2,000th referral sometime this year, has an 85 per cent success rate. “I think we’re having a large sum of youth who are getting educated and not re-offending,” McLandress says. “I think it’s creating a healthier community.” Chilliwack was an early leader in restorative justice, and McLandress hopes to see the community stay on the leading edge. Now 33 years old, but her passion for the “healing” model of justice still strong, McLandress says she’d like to see it expand into “preemptive” education with “circle times” in elementary schools that give students a chance to discuss the rights and wrongs seen during the day. “There’s lots of positive things that can be done ahead of time, and even at younger ages,” she says, to keep Chilliwack’s kids on the right side of the road.

Speedster Story | Eric Welsh Alec Janssens didn’t have an easy summer in 2011. The 20-year-old had just finished a busy year, juggling speed-skating and academic commitments in Calgary, the home of the University of Calgary and Speed-skating Canada’s primary training facility. Coming back to his hometown of Chilliwack, Janssens would have liked a little time to relax and refresh. But the life of an elite athlete doesn’t allow for much downtime. “I ended up working full time doing a manual labour job from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day,” Janssens said. “Came home. Had dinner. Did a training session. Had another dinner and trained again until about 9:30 at night. Then I went to sleep.” By the end of the summer, Janssens

was dying to get back to Calgary. The summer of 2012 figures to be much easier for the former Sardis Flier, who honed his speed-skating techniques under the watchful eye of coach George Donnatelly. Two weekends ago, Janssens was named to the Canadian Development National Team, a massive step in the young man’s career. “I’ll still need a part-time job to cover my living expenses,” said Janssens, who qualified for the national team in the 10,000 metre distance. “But I won’t have to work as much and I’ll be able to concentrate a lot more on training and school.” His best race this season was at a meet in Quebec City, where he actually fell in the 10,000 metre race, yet still managed to win by a good 12 seconds. Janssens put together an equally impressive performance to win the 5,000 metre race at the North American championship in Calgary, but a technicality got him disqualified. Standing six-foot-six, Janssens takes up a lot of ice striding side to side. In that race his toe crept over the center line a couple times, a no-no in a sport where staying in your lane is of paramount importance. Regardless, the 2011-12 season solidified the Chilliwackian’s status as one of the sport’s young guns. “And with the national team, I’ll have access to video analysis and physiotherapy and it’s not coming out of my time or pocket anymore,|” Janssens enthused. This will dramatically help me to take the next step.” Though the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are still aways away, Janssens is now clearly on Canada’s radar.


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JOEY BELTRANO • 39 A room with a view Story | Jennifer Feinberg Photo | Jenna Hauck The rebirth of the hotel property as the Coast Chilliwack Hotel almost three years ago had an undeniably positive impact on Chilliwack. In its water side setting adjacent Salish Park it reopened triumphantly in August 2009 after a complete redesign and major upgrade. That set the tone for a bright future. Since then, the Coast Chilliwack has become an award-winning regional destination, thanks in large part to the extensive $5-million renovation and some strategic marketing under Coast general manager Joey Beltrano, 39. Beltrano is also the chair of Tourism Chilliwack. He also sits on the regional tourism body, Vancouver Coast & Mountains. “I am grateful each and every

day to live in a community that is the ‘great outside’ and I am grateful to lead a talented team of overachievers.” The Coast partnered with CEPCO, Tourism Chilliwack, Sto:lo Nation, Chamber Commerce and the City of Chilliwack. “Our partners have been instrumental in our success as the community hotel.” He feels honoured to be a Rotarian with the MT Cheam Rotary Club of Chilliwack and appreciative in general to have so many opportunities to give back to the community. Times have been tough, how are is the Coast doing? “We have a fabulous team and product so were ok, that being said, in uncertain economic times we need to stay the course and stay focused. We have to watch every penny.” Ask him why Chilliwack was chosen as an investment site for the Coast group, he says:

“Chilliwack’s location as the gateway to the Fraser Valley, a short distance from three border crossings, makes it an ideal destination

for leisure and business travellers. “At a time when meeting planners and travel agents are striving to provide value for every dollar

spent, the Coast Chilliwack Hotel is now recognized as a preferred destination for industry conferences and events.”

KELLY VANDERBEEK • 29 PAUL BLESSIN • 38

Back in the fast track Story | Eric Welsh There is no one on our Forty Under 40 list who exemplifies perseverance more than Kelly VanderBeek. The 29-year-old has battled a ton of adversity over the last 15 months, and has come away a much stronger person. On Dec. 17, 2009 VanderBeek crashed on a World Cup training run at Val d’Isère, France. She was left with a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and a tibial plateau fracture in her left knee. Worse still, the crash came two months before the 2010

Winter Olympics, where VanderBeek was to race on Canadian soil. VanderBeek spent Christmas on a couch. In the months ahead she would go under the knife and then face endless hours of re-hab. Actually, my answer is yes,” she said, when asked if she ever thought about giving up. “I wanted to give up the pain and the struggle. But we must face our realities and make the best of them. That is what I tried to do every day, but it wasn’t easy or smooth.” VanderBeek leaned on friends, family, her community and her medical team. “Nothing in life is done alone, and my recovery was no

different,” she said. “The injury helped launch me into new careers as a television host and children’s photographer, which has been incredible in and off itself. I suppose the old cliché holds true. When one door closes a window opens.” Still, a return to the hills remained VanderBeek’s top priority. She worked at it day by day, doing her best to stay in the moment and not push herself too hard. “Every moment I spent on recovery and rehab were essential to my life and happiness regardless of whether or not I skied again,” she said. “However, it was my passion for sport and this community I’ve grown to love that got me through the toughest moments.” On Sept. 18, 2011 all the hard work paid off as VanderBeek strapped on the skis and took to a run in Chile. “It felt amazingly normal,” she said. “For me, getting back on my skis was like coming home.” In the months since she’s been working hard to regain her form, once more chasing the Olympic dream. The comeback will truly be complete if she’s on a ski hill in Sochi, Russia in February of 2014.

Administering the law Story | Robert Freeman God and the courts punish the wicked. But it’s Paul Blessin who prosecutes them to the fullest extent of the law. At least he does so with the cases that land on his desk at the Chilliwack Crown counsel office. Chilliwack-born and bred, Blessin, 38, says he always wanted to be a lawyer — a Crown counsel, specifically — to make this community a safer place. “When I thought about being a lawyer, I wasn’t thinking about drafting wills ... it was always about trying to keep the streets safe; to deal with crime and with the troubles of society — and probably the best way to do that, in my mind, was doing work for the Crown.” But nailing criminals isn’t the only thing on Blessin’s mind in the courtroom, he’s also thinking about the bigger picture: empathy, to a degree, for the accused, and their eventual return to the community after paying for their crimes. “You need to be able to see things from the perspective, not only of the police ... but also from the perspective of

the victim of a crime and, to an extent, from the perspective of the people committing them,” he says. “Because ordinarily their motive to commit a crime, it’s not pure evil,” he explains. “It’s because someone’s got an addiction problem or trouble in their background with violence in the household. To see that bigger picture lets me do my job more effectively.” “It’s always nice to end up with a conviction at the end of a trial,” he adds, “but we don’t do that at the expense of putting a person’s rights in jeopardy.” As if his courtroom work is not enough, Blessin does more for this community. Following in his father’s footsteps, he’s a long-time Rotary Club member (“It’s in my blood, I suppose,” he says) as well as a musician playing kettle drums in the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra. He’s also a member of the Chilliwack Amateur Radio Club that provides communications in local emergencies like Fraser River floods. Is there a political future ahead for such a community-minded person? “Never!” Blessin says, without hesitation. “No. I have never had aspirations for political office, and I hope never to have such aspirations. I greatly respect anyone who can put their name in the ring to do that sort of work. But quite frankly I’m more than happy to administer the law as opposed to getting out there and actually creating it.”


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ASHLEY WRAY • 25 Communicator and entrepreneur Story | Katie Bartel Photo | Jenna Hauck Ashley Wray’s gut instinct has never let her down. Whether it be for a new job, traveling to a new country, or taking on a new career, her gut has always led her in the right direction. Just as it did last year on a 45-minute flight from Bali, Indonesia to Phuket, Thailand. The 25-year-old co-owner of Mala Imports never imagined she’d one day be importing and selling jewelry; not when her dreams were planted so deep in the journalism field. (She’s been employed by the Liverpool Free Press, The Chilliwack Progress, The Abbotsford News, Shaw TV, and Star FM.) But that was before she met Soma Temple, creator of Aum Rudraksha Designs. The meeting was the result of a six-month trip that was initially only supposed to take Wray and her fiancé, Matt Bateman, to New Zealand. The couple had spent months planning the trip, organizing housing arrangements, work visas, lining up interviews for jobs to sustain them through the year. But a last-minute gut decision two

months into the adventure led them to explore other areas. “We thought we could stay here and live a life similar to our lives in Canada, or take this opportunity and live for ourselves, continue on and see what comes of it,” said Wray. They travelled through North and South England, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. On their flight to Thailand, the owner of Aum Rudraksha Designs sat next to them, drawn to their “beautiful aura.” She had noticed the rudraksha beaded bracelet on Bateman’s wrist that he had purchased in Bali and informed them that she was maker of those bracelets. She told them about her company, which promotes sustainability and fair trade, and about the history of rudraksha beads, which grow on trees in Southeast Asia and have been used in varying prayer and spiritual rituals for centuries. By the end of the flight, Wray and Bateman were so enraptured by the beads, they shook hands with Temple and became the official Canadian importers of Aum Rudraksha Designs. “If you had asked us a year ago

what we would be doing in a year, we never would have said we’d be spending every waking hour outside of our 9-5 jobs working with jewelry,” said Wray, a communications specialist at the University of the Fraser Valley. “It’s just not something we ever would have imagined to be in our future.” Yet, they’re excelling. Last month, Mala Imports

attended the Vancouver Health and Wellness Show, and next month will be featured in Vancouver Eco Fashion Week. They’ve also developed a partnership with La Isla, a California-based fashion house that’s interested in taking Mala Imports to Miami Fashion Week in July, as well as showcasing the jewelry with its brand in several fashion magazine spreads.

Mala Imports is also working on creating an exclusive line of jewelry for La Isla’s 2013 swim and beachwear line. “We often say look where we were a year ago,” said Wray. “This time last year, we were in Vietnam. Who knows where we’ll be a year from now. “That’s the thing, we don’t plan it. We let our instinct guide us.”

PAUL DONALDSON • 37 Building community Story | Greg Knill Photo | Jenna Hauck A community is like a rugby squad, says Paul Donaldson. It needs a variety of skills, talents and abilities to succeed. But, ultimately, says the 37-year-old financial advisor and branch manager with Odlum Brown, a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Rugby can teach us a lot about life. Successful teams are the ones where members support each other, work together, and use their disparate skills to build a stronger unit. A community can do the same, Donaldson says. “Having a strong community benefits everybody.” And for him, that starts with the kids. Donaldson knows what it’s like to have someone make a difference in your life. When his parents divorced, it was his grandfather who became the guiding mentor in his life. Donaldson shared many summers with his grandfather, either travelling or working at jobs with his grandfather’s company. He gained more than work experience. He gained from the wisdom, support and encouragement offered by this powerful

influence in his life. That influence has stuck with him and serves as a reminder of the importance of a positive presence in a young person’s life. “I was very fortunate,” he says. Donaldson understands not everyone has that opportunity, so he does what he can to bridge that gap. That includes coaching the sport he loves: rugby. He played competitively in high school – not very well at first, he admits. But he remembers watching Semiahmoo Secondar y’s championship team and vowing to be on that team one

day. A year later he was living in Surrey, and after a successful tryout, he was the team’s fullback. That experience sparked an appreciation for the sport that continues to this day. “Rugby teaches you a lot of skills that you need in life,” says Donaldson who helps coach at G.W. Graham school. It also taught him what can be achieved through teamwork. Today, Donaldson sees that teamwork in action through his involvement with Rotary. At Rotary, he says, “you’re surrounded by a whole lot of like-minded people who all want

to give back and facilitate getting things done.” He chaired last year’s Rotary Book Sale – an event that raises more $60,000 to $70,000 dollars annually. The sale is a mammoth undertaking that would not be possible without the active participation of many people, he says, from those who donate their books, to those who volunteer thousands and thousands of hours to help, to those who buy the books during the one-week sale. “This has to be one of the best community events,” he says. Not only does the money help support projects in Chilliwack, books that can’t be sold are packed up and shipped to needy countries overseas. “It’s just an amazing thing.” Rortary touches lives in other ways. A program started by the late Ron Goldfinch, for example, funds breakfast for students at three Chilliwack schools. “How can you learn if you’re hungry?” Donaldson also sits on the board of directors for Chilliwack Community Services. “One of the things [my grandfather] taught me was to always give back to your community, and what better way than to join the board.” He says it’s an outstanding organization, and one he’s proud to be part of. But, he confesses with a smile, sometimes he’d be happier on the rugby field than in the boardroom.


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