The members of the Cold Lake Men’s Shed feel there is an opportunity—and a need—for the movement to take root in other Alberta and Saskatchewan communities.

To help this along, they are hosting a conference of other Men’s Sheds as well as communities who might want to start a Shed of their own.

Men’s Sheds started in Australia, and are a growing international movement. The local Sheds are set up to help retired men replace the camaraderie and social networks they had in the workplace by providing space and enabling volunteer work on community projects, among other things.

Isolation is a major health concern among older people. Many retired men find that their work was not just their occupation, but the centre of their daily social lives as well. When they can no longer go to work, many find themselves without social contact and at a loss for things to do.

The Cold Lake conference, titled “Shed Happens,” will take place September 21 to 23. It will offer an opportunity for existing Sheds to learn from each other and will also give a how-to for those looking at starting up a Men’s Shed in their own communities.

Attendees will learn why Men’s Sheds are important; how to start and fund one in your community; how a Shed can contribute to a community; and how to get men to join it. The most valuable part of the conference may be the chance to rub shoulders with “Shedders” from across Alberta and Saskatchewan and learn from their experiences.  

The conference has received $20,000 from HelpAge Canada, a national organization whose mission is “to work in partnership with others to improve and maintain the quality of life of vulnerable older persons and their communities in Canada and around the world.”

With this funding, representatives from existing Men’s Sheds—and individuals looking into starting a Shed in their communities—can register for the conference with a $50 refundable deposit. These people may also be eligible for an accommodation subsidy.

Representatives of organizations such as social service agencies will be required to pay a conference registration fee.

There are currently seven speakers on the conference lineup, who will be presenting on such topics as:

• The Men’s Shed Movement: From Australia to your town 

• How to start a Men’s Shed in your town and who is going to pay for it? 

• Sheds and Money 

• He Sheds Cuz She Said: Women’s contributions and men’s benefits 

• Men’s Sheds and Community Building: Lessons learned from Vanderhoof to Vancouver

• Advice from Away: A virtual session with Men’s Shed leaders from Australia, Ireland, United States, Scotland, and Canada

• What Could Possibly Go Wrong? How to overcome the challenges that will arise

Contact Age Friendly Cold Lake at (780) 594-5666 for more information.