Hemp: breaking the stigma

Hemp, the meaning of the word and what it actually represents – more often than not – does not mesh with public perception. What hemp actually represents is health and sustainability, but public perception often defaults to Cheech and Chong.

That being said, perception is changing, and rightfully so. Hemp isn’t marijuana. Hemp may be a relative, but hemp food products have next to none of the mind-altering agent tetrahydrocannabinol. For a point of reference, Canadian industrial hemp contains less than 10 parts per million (or 0.001%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while marijuana can contain more than 300,000 parts per million (30%).
It is not possible for a human to ingest enough hemp to get a “buzz.”

It is not possible for a human to ingest enough hemp to get a “buzz.”

Beyond the perceptions, hemp is among the most versatile and sustainable products on the planet with a wide range of uses that include everything from paper, to textiles, fuels, to plastics, to construction materials and food. All of these products are of the highest quality.

The textiles are far stronger than cotton and require far less water to grow. The plastics are also strong and durable and the construction materials (hempcrete) are strong insulators that naturally deter pests.

And then there are the food products… Hemp is a superfood!

Hemp is a highly competitive crop that grows naturally without a need for herbicides or pesticides. It is naturally a Non-GMO (not genetically modified) product. Hemp also packs a major nutritional punch.

A 30 gram serving of hulled hemp seed contains an impressive 10 grams of protein and 12 grams of Omegas 3 and 6. The product is extremely versatile and it can be used in or on anything. My four-year-old daughter loves the nutty taste and eats it by the spoonful. I also add it to her smoothies and I’ll even sprinkle some or in between layers of peanut butter and jelly. The omegas and protein and incredible fuel for her growing brain and body

A 30 gram serving of toasted hemp seeds contains eight gram of protein, eight grams of Omegas and a whopping nine grams of fiber. It also packs a healthy crunch. My daughter loves it as a stand-alone snack (so do I), but she also likes to use it as a topper for yogurt or ice-cream.

And then there are the derivative products, a hemp seed oil, that carries a light, nutty flavour and is loaded with omegas. There is also a range of protein powders that are loaded with fiber in addition to the highly digestible, plant-based protein. All of these products are created through mechanical treatments. They are raw, products with no chemicals added. Pure, simple nutrition.
I didn’t know any of this before I started with Just Hemp Foods, but now that I do, I eat hemp daily, I buy hemp clothes and lotions and I legitimately encourage everyone I know to get on the hemp bandwagon. My daughter will grow up eating hemp daily and I have completely changed my priorities when it comes to food.

Food can be delicious and nutritious. Food can be sustainable and hemp isn’t taboo in the slightest.

Getting on track at the CN Campus

When construction of the CN Campus in Transcona wrapped up on April 7, 2014, it was exactly 100 years to the day after the completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway just east of Fort Fraser, B.C.

Both occasions marked historical moments in the history of Canadian railroad, with the railway linking Winnipeg to the west coast, and the completion of the campus the start of a national training program for potential CN employees.

The CN Campus opened with the goal of training the next generation of conductors, locomotive engineers, track maintainers, welders, machine operators, car mechanics as well as other positions that you might expect to associate with a rail company. The building is also being used for some existing employees who want to update their skills in their current trade, or are looking to make a shift to something else.

This facility, and another one in Homewood, Illinois, was built to centralize and standardize the training of employees.

“It was all very decentralized,” said Operations Training and Development director David Radford. “In the past it would all be in either hotel facilities or we would subcontract meeting rooms. Or else it was done in our old training centres. Some of it was done across the street (550 Pandora Ave. E.), which is a very small building that’s been around for a long time.”

No more flip-charts in hotels, no more locomotive simulators scattered all over the country. Everything is now under one roof, with the flip charts being replaced by hands on training in areas like signal, switches and manual maintenance of the tracks. Before that was all something that had to be verbally explained or shown on paper, now it’s all practical and there to be seen.

“A good example is the locomotive simulators. Those were decentralized so there was one here and one there all over Canada. So we brought them all to Winnipeg,” says David.

“So those locomotive simulators are in use from eight in the morning to midnight every day.”

Next stop, Winnipeg

Three groups of people will benefit from the opening of this campus in Winnipeg:

1. CN now has the ability to centralize and standardize training, and at a higher level than it ever has been before. This should increase productivity of employees, while ensuring a better understanding an implementation of safety standards.
2. The trainees at the campus will get taught with theory and practical application in a way that has not been seen before, exposing them to techniques and technologies in a safe learning environment.
3. Winnipeg sees 250 to 500 students per week staying at six different hotels and accounting for 600 round trip flights to the city every month. The campus has 60 full-time staff, and Manitoba sees a total capital investment from CN totaling $172 million every year.

Winnipeg is the third largest rail hub in the country, and according to David Ranford there were several characteristics that made Winnipeg the best choice for the location of the CN Campus, including the space they already owned at the Transcona Yards.

“This is close to one of our biggest terminals in Canada, we had the land available in this area that we already owned, the availability of accommodations,” said David. “When you looked at places like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and you’re buying up three to four hundred rooms per night like we were at one point last year, we could get the rooms in Winnipeg where other cities didn’t necessarily allow for that.”

Building the next generation

If you tag along with the Young Construction Leaders of Manitoba (YCLM) on one of their Project Site Tours, you will quickly find out that these young builders see things in different light when touring a building. And sometimes, they see lights differently. On their most recent tour of the newly constructed CN Campus, the use of LED lighting was a point of interest. While other tour groups might be more interested in what happens in a room, the point of these tours is to get a first-hand look at the latest in construction.
Part of the reason that these tours happen is to allow the members of the group to see how some of their fellow members could or would have contributed to the project. Roofers can see electrical work, mechanical can see doors and windows…the list goes on.
Some of the sites that YCLM has visited include the Winnipeg Police Service Headquarters, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Price Research Center North. The group also gets together for seminars where new technology and techniques are taught for professional development, as well as cocktail events where they can get to know each other and truly establish the social bond that YCLM strives for.

Changing of the guard

It shouldn’t come as a real surprise to anybody, but the truth is that the construction and labour industry has a large number of employees who are approaching retirement, and will soon need to pass the torch onto the next generation. Sometimes it’s as easy as a parent passing a company down to one of their children.
But what if they have no children, or their children find other careers? That’s why there has to be people like the members of YCLM to fill those voids.
YCLM, and its 200-plus members use networking to interact and grow as professionals.
Aynsley Dueck is the marketing manager for DUXTON Windows & Doors, and is one of YCLM’s directors-at-large, and says it’s important for the future of the industry to have groups like this.
“YCLM is an excellent place for both post-secondary students and working professionals to build valuable work relationships and stay up-to-date about the newest changes in the industry,” said Aynsley. “If you are passionate about the construction industry, this is the best place to meet young, like-minded individuals, and further develop your career within Manitoba.”
YCLM targets the under-40 crowd, and with an impending labour shortage as the baby-boomers retire, something needs to be done to make the experience for young labourers as good as possible.
“YCLM encourages young workers to stay in Manitoba by showing them what is new and exciting in our city and in our province, said Aynsley. “Companies and individuals are investing in our city because they see the long-term potential.”

Oak + Oar makes a splash in local fashion

Winnipeg isn’t going to be the first name that comes to mind when you associate fashion with a city. Places like Vancouver and Montreal tend to get more attention in that regard.
But despite earning a six-month scholarship with the brand 3sixteen in New York City, Chris Watchorn made the choice to come back to his home city.
“I feel like Winnipeg is a very friendly city. It’s also a smaller city, and I feel like it’s easier to spread the word brand wise,” says Chris, owner and designer of the Oak + Oar fashion brand. “I have a lot of good friends, a lot of good people here, a lot of good business like Tub, and people who are really supportive.”
While in New York, Chris was able to experience the many facets of running a clothing brand, and he used that experience to start up Oak + Oar. The brand launched in the summer of 2012.
Since returning to Winnipeg, Chris has been working full time with FXR Racing in Oak Bluff. After five years of working there, Chris felt that it was now or never if Oak + Oar was to reach its potential.
“I’m not getting any younger and I feel like I’d regret not going for it now. I’d hate to have looked back in 10 years and said ‘maybe that could have been something’. So I quit there, I’m self-employed now doing Oak + Oar full-time. I have another brand called Olé denim that I’m doing with two friends from Saskatchewan that we just launched last week which is getting carried in a few stores in Canada. Between those two projects I’m keeping pretty busy.”

The Brands

Two of Chris’ biggest passions are garment design and cabin life, so the choice to combine the two was a simple one
“For me, it mixes two hobbies or two passions. I love going to the lake. My parents have a place in the Whiteshell that I tag along to. There’s just something about escaping there. I feel creative,” said Chris. “You don’t have the distraction of the internet and phone, so you can focus and do design stuff. It’s a pretty inspiring place to be, and I thought if I can mix my two hobbies and make a business out of it, it’d be pretty cool.”
From that mindset, the Oak + Oar brand was born, with Olé building off some of the following that Oak + Oar had developed to help the young brand grow quickly.
“I wanted to build off a little bit of a following that I had with Oak + Oar so Olé had a little bit of traction to hit the ground running. That was a project that I started with two friends, Ryan Mack and Dallas Siemens. They both went to the University of Saskatchewan and have business backgrounds. For me that’s allowed me just to focus on the design aspect of the business.”
Oak + Oar is currently being sold in two Winnipeg locations, at Tub and Stylebar, while Olé is sold at Normandy Shoppe in Winnipeg and three locations in Saskatchewan.

Big League Help

Chris has benefitted from the social prominence of some of his clientele, with many players of the Winnipeg Jets seen sporting his gear.
“That was pretty huge and I think that if that didn’t pan out as early as it did I might not be at the point that I am now. If you have someone wear that and show up on social media it helps out a lot.”
Chris’ friend and barber, Dru Barrow from Hunter & Gunn, had attended an event where Chris had a popup shop and bought some of the Oak + Oar products. Dru happens to cut hair for several members of the Winnipeg Jets, and when defenceman Mark Stuart had gone in and seen Dru wearing it. Mark inquired about the brand, and has since bought items, becoming a regular customer and even contributing to help design a belt with Chris and Vancouver based leather designer Ken Diamond. They decided to do a pop-up evet, and to Chris’ surprise, most of the Jets roster showed up.

Taking The Leap

Looking back, Chris says that taking the plunge into his own business as soon as he came back from New York might have been better than waiting to see if Oak + Oar would take off on its own, encouraging others to go take the risk now rather than regretting it later.
“I would say just go for it as soon as you can go for it.”

Faster than a speeding polar bear

How fast is a polar bear?
Well, if it’s driving in a Formula SAE race car, it can reach speeds close to 100 kilometers per hour.
The Polar Bear Racing Formula SAE team is comprised of engineering students at the University of Manitoba. The team designs and builds racecars to compete against teams from other universities, with competitions all over the world.
The cars for each team are put through their paces, tested for acceleration, skidpad (a “figure-eight” type track designed to test vehicle cornering), autocross, and an endurance event, which is a 22km autocross race.
Polar Bear Racing Team Leader Ryan Olson has been with the team for three years, seeing his role expand each season.
“During my first year on the team, I helped out with as many different aspects of the car to broaden my understanding of the various systems of the car. In my second year on the team, I became a design lead, which led me to becoming the team lead in my third year on the team.”
Ryan says it was connections he made in the engineering faculty during his first year that drew his attention and interest towards

Formula SAE.

Each team must be part of the student chapter of SAE International, an association of engineering professionals. Members of Polar Bear Racing have to join SAE International individually as well before they can join the team, although they do not have to be studying engineering to join the team.

Off to the races

Formula SAE Racing occurs at international competitions, with teams from all across the globe participating. The Polar Bear Racing team competes in two competitions per year, Formula SAE Michigan in May and Formula SAE Lincoln in June, with the team making the road trip down to the United States.
The team’s most recent excursion was to Lincoln, Nebraska in June, where they competed against 75 other schools, including teams from India, Japan and Brazil.
“The team was extremely excited to finish in 10th place overall,” said Ryan. It was the first time that the team ever finished in the top 10, and the feat earned them a “Spirit of Excellence” award and a trophy to take home.
“We also finished 2nd place in the sales presentation event, giving us another trophy, after our two presenters, Chanelle McKenzie and Quillan Daniel, wowed the judges with their presentation.”

Down the Road

Because Polar Bear Racing is self-funded, it requires funding support to get them into events like those in Nebraska and Michigan. There are other competitions around the world, but the cost and level of competition is very high for those.
“The organization itself is a not-for-profit organization that relies on sponsorship money from companies around the city to fund the manufacturing of the car,” Ryan says. “Many companies provide in-kind sponsorship and help us manufacture specific components of the car.”

No “I” in Polar Bear

The University of Manitoba first started a Formula team back in the 1980s, evolving along the way. The name Polar Bear Racing only came along in the last decade, which likely had something to do with Manitoba being the home of almost 1,000 polar bears.
The team itself is also something that is constantly evolving, with new students and members exiting or graduating.
Despite the ever-changing roster, the team dynamic remains very positive. Working towards a common goal really builds camaraderie.
Balancing schoolwork and working on the car is not an easy feat, says Ryan. Course work comes before the car, and students need to work to ensure that neither one suffers because of the other.
“Being on the Formula isn’t always for everyone given the amount of work evolved, but the experience we gain from designing and manufacturing the car and the fun we have doing make it all worthwhile.”

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