The Village of Canning’s recreation department has a new face at its helm. Gillian Bergsma has taken up the reins from previous recreation director Jennie Weisner, who moved onto a career in athletic therapy.
Bergsma is no stranger to small communities – or the Valley. Born and raised in Waterford Ontario, Bergsman studied at Acadia from 2013-17 and has never left the Valley since then.
“Once I came here, it was kind of hard to leave,” Bergsma said. “The community was a big sell for me and I made a lot of friends here, playing varsity rugby at Acadia. I currently coach the team.”
She hopes to leverage the community connections she made playing rugby in bringing fresh, interesting recreation opportunities to Canning.
Bergsma holds a Bachelor of Community Development degree from Acadia.
“In my first year, it was called recreation management, but they switched it to community development,” she said.
Bergsma is adept in both, as she has experience working with smaller communities and with people of all ages, building resilience and improving the benefits of recreation and leisure on a local level.
Bergsma’s first impression of the job she started in early September has been positive.
“It’s good. I’ve never actually experienced Canning much,” Bergsma said. “My neighbours keep bringing treats to me and everyone seems really positive around here.
I’m excited to see what my first year here will bring.”
For the first couple of months, Bergsma intends to stay the course with many of the programs initiated by her predecessor.
“There’s a lot of stuff Jennie already has in place, and I hope to start with some new stuff this spring,” Bergsma said.
When she hits the ground running with her own programming, Bergsma will focus in a large part on meeting the needs of the significant senior demographic in Canning.
“One of our biggest programs is the active living program,” Bergsma noted. “It’s actually another Acadia graduate who’s running it. It’s all about getting seniors active, doing some exercise and walking – that kind of stuff that gets them up on their feet. That’s one of our big things.”
That program will be one of many Bergsma plans to implement in the community.
“There’s definitely a bit of everything,” she said.
The programming Bergsma is developing is for Canning, and communities such as Sheffield Mills, Scot’s Bay and Kingsport – and the two schools in the area.
Another piece to the puzzle is making connections with the local business community. Bergsma said she hopes to be able to collaborate with the Canning Area Business Development Association.
Above all, Bergsma is excited to begin.
“I’m really excited to hear people’s input on things and find out what people want to see from the rec department,” she said. “I’m excited to see where we can go with that.”