By Tom Collins
KEMPTVILLE — A transplanted shepherd from Western Ontario is the newest director for Ontario Sheep Farmers after an Eastern Ontario district had no representation for half a year.
Last November, long-time director Sally Jorgensen stepped down as District 10 director after retiring from the sheep industry. However, no one else wanted the job. The marketing agency has the power to appoint someone, but allowed the district committee until November, 2019 to find a new director.
District 10 encompasses the counties of Russell, Prescott, Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas and Grenville, along with the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton except the Township of West Carleton and the City of Kanata.
Lee Brien moved to Kemptville from Ridgetown a couple of years ago, where he now runs a second farm while still helping his parents run the Ridgetown farm. He said with the farms and a couple of young kids at home, it was a tough decision, but he decided to put his name forward as the new director. The purebred livestock farmer was elected as the new director at the end of May, and his term runs out in 2021.
“It’s a shame to have a group of people not represented on a provincial level,” said Brien, 34. “I think it’s kind of like voting in the election: If you don’t vote, you don’t get the chance to bitch.”
One of Brien’s goals is to improve engagement between the organization and sheep farmers, but he realized he couldn’t come in like gangbusters.
“If you’re going to come in like a bull in a china shop, you’re not going to get anything accomplished,” said the fourth-generation shepherd.
“Nobody’s going to want to work with you, and it’s going to be very tough and you’re going to burn yourself out trying to change anything. You’ve got to build some trust with the people that are already there.”
EASTERN ONTARIO: Kemptville shepherd is new Ontario Sheep director
By Tom Collins