49 Langarans

49Langaran

Joseph Abercrombie

Langara Alum | Sustainability Innovator

When Joe Abercrombie moved from his home province of Alberta to attend Langara College in Vancouver, he figured he’d better pick up some part-time work to help pay for school.

He had years of experience working at his uncle’s wildlife control business back home and, despite being overqualified, decided to take a pest control technician job in the city. His first assignment was a house that had a heavy rat infestation.

“I took a walk outside and the place was riddled with holes,” Abercrombie remembers. “It was obvious the holes were the problem, so I looked at the guy who was supposed to be training me and asked, ‘We’re here to fix those, right?’”

Not quite, Abercrombie was told. Instead, the trainer said to put on his gloves, fill up poison stations and lay them out next to the holes.

“I was blown away,” Abercrombie said of the instructions.

He said the trainer went on to tell the homeowners that they would be billed monthly until they didn’t see any more rats inside their property, at which time the company would quote them on sealing up the house.

“That’s completely backwards to me,” he said. “That’s treating the symptom. Maybe you’re going to kill a rodent, and if you do it’s going to die in your structure. It’s obvious — you have to fix those holes and then deal with what’s left. Stop the flow.”

Abercrombie quit that day, only to find out that other companies in the city were the same. The “poison slingers,” as he calls them, were perpetuating the myths that customers can’t get a permanent result and that relying on poison to “control” the population is the only economical option.

“The industry standard is essentially to neglect the root cause in order to turn your wildlife conflict into a source of recurring revenue at your expense and at the environment’s,” he said.

So he got a loan, bought a truck and founded Humane Solutions Inc., a sustainable, innovative wildlife management company. By addressing root causes, such as filling holes in a house, he has grown a team of internationally qualified, human-wildlife conflict specialists and wildlife technicians. Over the past several years they have developed innovative services for all common pests, as well as high-profile wildlife concerns, helping everyone from homeowners to business owners and municipalities while earning nothing but five-star reviews.

“Instead of poison we use humane traps. Every rodent we control we physically remove,” he said. “We provide monthly reports with what we call ‘CatchData,’ making them unique to the industry. Customers get to see the total number of rodents caught, cost per rodent, and trend over time in terms of expenditure and catch.

“With that data we modify customers’ programs and make small changes. The idea is to get customers a permanent result and ultimately lower their pest control budget.

“That runs completely contrary to the industry standard globally.”

Humane Solutions Inc. is an eco-friendly wildlife pest control company, but at its core, Abercrombie said, is innovation.

For example, he has also developed a low-labour, humane rodent control system that is meant to directly compete with the poison industry and scale the CatchData methodology globally. He recently secured partnership and the system is about to move into the development stage.

Using his cutting edge company as a catalyst, he intends to come up with more creative solutions to serious ecological problems in the future.

Courtesy of Black Press Media

49 Facts — NO. 24

In 2017 the actor, playwright, and director Kevin Loring, who is a graduate of the Studio 58 program, was announced as the National Arts Centre’s first ever artistic director of Indigenous Theatre.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Haisla Collins

    Haisla Collins

    Langara Alum | Indigenous Arts Advocate

    Haisla is an artist, musician, teacher, and community leader. She is an Indigenous expressionist artist working out of Raven’s Eye Studio. She also serves as the Community Leader for Indigenous Women Artists, a collective that brings together female Indigenous artists for collaborative works, art shows, workshops, and community projects. This year, the collective won the Creative City Strategy Grant from the City of Vancouver to do a residency at the Roundhouse Community Centre and had shows at Gallery Gachet and Britannia Library Art Gallery. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, spent six years training with performance coach and renowned jazz singer Ron Small, and for the last 13 years has been the lead singer and harmonica player for the blues and roots band “Haisla with Nasty, Brutish and Short”. A champion of the community and the arts, Haisla has been a Project Manager at The Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts, Coordinator of the Aboriginal Artisan Program at Carnegie Community Centre, and Director of Raven’s Eye Mentorship Program. She is best known for her work on mural Spirits of the Realms and Through the Eye of the Raven and this year she won the City of Vancouver Indigenous mural contest to produce Sisters, Daughters, Clan Mothers - Honouring Indigenous Women which will be displayed at the central Vancouver Public Library in fall 2019.

    Read more
  • Gail Sparrow

    Gail Sparrow

    Langara Alum | Indigenous Leader

    Gail Sparrow is a former Chief of the Musqueam First Nation. An alumna of Langara, she returned to the College as an Elder-in-Residence, helping to provide a supportive environment for Indigenous students. She played a key role in strengthening the connection between the Musqueam and the College, educating the Langara community on the history, culture, and teachings of the Musqueam and the land on which the College is located. Gail was also instrumental in Langara receiving its Musqueam name, snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, which means house of teachings. Outside of Langara, she has been a passionate community advocate as a Native Employment Specialist with Canada Employment and Immigration Centre, Project Manager with Tribal America Consulting Los Angeles California, Community Development Director with the Musqueam Indian Band, Owner with LIFT Computer Institute, and as the President and Owner of Native Personnel Services.

  • Heather Prost

    Heather Prost

    Langara Alum | Accessible Arts Advocate

    Heather is a Community Inclusion Supervisor at the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, the Arts Programmer for Steel & Oak Brewing, and an Auxiliary Workshop Facilitator at Artists Helping Artists. An advocate for accessible art and mental health, she worked to create The Spoon Project, which uses art as a starting point for discussion on mental health. She is the co-founder of ARTThrive, an arts workshop program started at SFU, which is designed to create safer spaces for survivors of sexual abuse and queer youth through meditative practice. She is also one of the conceptual leads behind Steel & Oak’s Women’s Brew, a beer conceptualized and brewed annually by female-identifying members of the company. The proceeds from beer sales go towards select charities. Heather is presently studying with Langara Continuing Studies to become an Expressive Arts Therapist and recently became a certified End of Life Care doula.

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