A Kimberley father and hobby farmer has taken it upon himself to build a community of fellow fathers through the creation of a group he dubbed the East Kootenay Rad Dads.
Sam McCurdie, a father of four, lives on a hobby farm in Kimberley where he and his family raise alpacas, chickens, dogs and bees.
McCurdie moved out west from Toronto in 2010, when he quickly got into human service work, working with kids in group homes and adults struggling with disabilities and/or addiction.
McCurdie explained that he’s had the idea of getting a group of like-minded men together for the past two years, but his busy life prevented him from being able to fully execute his plan.
He says that with the help of another local, Max Soltys, the East Kootenay Rad Dads is now an active group on social media, consisting of around 70 fathers.
“The inspiration for Rad Dads came from me noticing that there’s a lack of resources [out there] for dads. There are a lot of resources for families and for mothers, but nothing really directed at fathers,” said McCurdie. “So I guess the inspiration came from a place of need.”
He says that he’s struggled with his own tendency of staying isolated within his own family group.
“I have a hard time getting out for ‘dude time’, so a father’s group is something I felt I needed as well,” McCurdie said. “As fathers, we have a lot going on, inside and out, and we don’t often allow ourselves the time or space to talk about it. I believe society has conditioned us to be the strong and silent type; delivering anything shy of perfection for our families is unacceptable.”
He hopes that with the creation of the EK Rad Dads group and their upcoming events, the stigma will be lessened and more fathers will be encouraged to connect with one another on a meaningful level. Not only that, but McCurdie hopes the group can also raise funds for kids and families in the area.
EK Rad Dads will be hosting an event at Center 64 in Kimberley on January 18, a ‘Ted Talk’ format with guest speakers Jeff Pew and Richard Leesman. The event is free, and memberships to the EK Rad Dads group, $5, will be encouraged to fund future endeavours.
“Jeff is planning on speaking about his relationship with his own father and how his career as a councillor and educator has shaped his parenting,” said McCurdie. “Richard is going to touch on the historical/cultural roles fathers have played [in the past] and play now. Richard works with individuals who struggle with addiction, and I think he will touch on that connection as well as abusive fathers.”
Those who join the Rad Dad group will be invited to social gatherings, events, and subscribed to an email if they so choose.
The group can be found on Facebook and Instagram, where McCurdie and his fellow organizers will be posting to encourage fathers to connect with one another and organize their own meet-ups.
“For example, members can post something like, ‘going fising at lazy lake at 1p.m., rad dads welcome’. I’d love to see the group utilized this way and for this openness to become the new norm amongst dads and men,” McCurdie explained.
McCurdie adds that he would like to thank all of the local businesses and organizations helping his initiative including The Choice, Yafinsati Tattoo Parlour, Arrow and Axe, Spirit Rock Climbing Centre and many more.
“We are open and accepting more donations and are very appreciative for the support we have already received,” McCurdie said, adding that the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) is the organization that they are donating proceeds to.
CAPC is an organization that provides spaces and activities for families to play, eat, learn and connect with each other. They run out of Blarchmont school in Kimberley and out of the Society for Community Connections building in Cranbrook.
“My hope is that these speaking events and our social group will help encourage fathers to speak about what they’re feeling and going through,” said McCurdie. “One metaphor that I’ve found useful is that ‘the lone wolf does not survive in nature’. I know from experience that it is very easy to ‘lone wolf it’ through fatherhood and I’ve been working on that in my personal life. Speaking for Max, I know he has seen the need as well and is excited to be a part of this.”