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Speaker

Christian Aagaard

Retired

Job Description

I was a newspaper journalist for more than 30 years, and a writer-for-hire for five years. So, for almost 40 years, I wrote stories about people doing neat stuff -- or not-so-neat stuff; companies making cool things; decisions by municipal leaders that affect where we live and play; and events that brought people together for some fun.

The technical term for all this is news, but it is part of a very old tradition of telling stories to get people thinking about the communities they live in. We learn from stories. Stories cause us to ask questions and seek answers. They can bother us. They can make us laugh. They can inspire us to change. By telling our stories, and listening to those that others have to tell, we can live peacefully with one another.

Relevant School Subjects

  • Canadian and World Studies
  • English
  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Areas of Expertise

  • Media/Print/Publishing
  • PR/Communications

Career Story

I had a really good English teacher in high school who loved books and encouraged us to read. After high school, I took a year off and worked in downtown Montreal as an office boy running messages and doing mailroom chores for a company. I saved enough money to cover most of my tuition costs for almost three of four years at university (in the 1970s).

I went to a small liberal-arts university with small classes and even smaller tutorials, which meant lots of lively discussions among students and professors. When I couldn't get into a course because, said a professor, I "write too much like a journalist", I decided to become a journalist. I worked my way up from smaller to larger papers, starting in a mining town in northern Ontario.

I have always admired people who have had multiple careers; so when I turned 50, I began thinking about what else I might do. I decided to train as a bicycle mechanic -- I loved tinkering with bikes when I was a kid. I worked as a volunteer mechanic for several years before landing a job at a new bike shop. I was there for more than three years.

By the end, I had reached an age where I wanted to spend more time giving back to the community as a volunteer. That's my job now -- I'm a volunteer.

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