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A weekend Repair Café for kids in Kamloops

The Nov. 26 Repair Café at the North Kamloops Library will host a children’s event to repair broken toys for, and with, children and their families
Fixer Terry Shupe will be bringing wooden cars in need of repairs to enlist the help of children who might like to learn the art of fixing toys at this weekend’s Repair Café: Children’s Edition.

The Repair Café will be hosting a children’s event to repair broken toys for, and with, children and their families, in partnership with the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library.

On Saturday, Nov. 26, families are welcome to bring toys that require repairs to the North Kamloops Library between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a helping hand for its first-ever family-friendly event.

“Repairing is becoming — not so much a lost skill — but people feel intimidated by it sometimes, and this is just an opportunity to show kids (how to take something apart) and play around with a screwdriver to see what’s inside it,” said Carl Gagnier, Repair Café event organizer. “Taking something apart is easy. Putting it back together is the hard part.”

Attendees will be required to register upon entering the program room at the library and will be given an estimate of how long the wait will be to repair their items from home. From there, folks are encouraged to browse through the books at the library while they wait in the queue.

There will be a limited number of workstations, including two electrical and mechanical tables, two sewing tables, one wood-working table as well as a table for children and their families to take apart some items at this year’s venue.

“The Repair Café isn’t just about fixing items,” said Catherine Schmidt, Thompson Nicola Regional Library System’s adult services coordinator. “It’s about showing you how the fix happens. The library is all about providing new skills and new options for learning, so the Repair Café really fits into that niche, and if parents bring their children to the (event), the kids are going to learn a bit about what goes on underneath the surface, and if it can’t be repaired, they can learn how to take it apart and play with the pieces. It’s all about a learning experience in addition to that sustainability piece.”

The purpose of the Repair Café: Children’s Edition offered as part of the Transition Kamloops Network is to help locals build resiliency and self-sufficiency, while investing in a future with reduced consumption and dependence on fossil fuels. Their goal is to support a local economy, healthy ecosystems and grassroots community-building.

And with the holidays fast-approaching, the Repair Café remains optimistic that families will be able to repair and re-gift lightly used toys this winter after their first-ever children’s event.

“It’s all about the three R’s,” concluded Gagnier. “Recycle, reuse and reduce. By repairing, we reduce things going into the landfill, and it’s an opportunity to teach some new skills and become a little more resilient to use the items that we have rather than consuming new things.”

The North Kamloops Library is located at 693 Tranquille Road in the North Shore of Kamloops.

If you’re interested in volunteering to help the Repair Café at upcoming events, email to get more information.

Shupe's shop open for families

Terry Shupe’s woodworking shop will make a cameo at the Repair Café: Children’s Edition this weekend.

With up to 30 handmade wooden cars in tow, the retired provincial judge turned toy maker will be at the North Kamloops Library event as a fixer, offering demonstrations to children and their families with a reward in mind for participants.

“I have a variety of models to choose from, so the kids who attend get to pick whichever [model] they want to work on,” Shupe said. “Then they’ll attach the wheels and take home their car.”

Shupe will provide each participant with a handcrafted wooden car, a cup of glue, a damp rag, dowelling and a toothpick during the activity.

He will explain the process of building toy cars and support families with the insertion of the rear wheels. Together, participants will ensure the axle will stay intact on each respective toy car before its departure to a new home.

The free children’s toys at the library will be available to families on a first-come, first -served basis.

“I’ve done woodworking for 20-plus years and, in the past, I donated to Christmas Amalgamated and in the past (before the pandemic), I had this same exercise at Canada Day,” Shupe said.

Shupe has also donated wooden cars to families in need. both locally and abroad.

This winter, he plans to offer the workshop to immigrant and refugee families being served by Kamloops Immigrant Services.

However, the lessons for families and sustainability of the café strike a different chord for Shupe on a personal level as he values the impact it could have on future generations in the community.

“This concept of the Repair Café is innovative and it sounds exciting because we are, after all, a throwaway society as opposed to fixing,” Shupe said.

“The notion is innovative and I think it’s really exciting.”