Sooke’s First Repair Cafe

Bring your tired, your huddled, your broken masses* of stuff to the Sooke Community Hall on Saturday, May 27 as we kickstart what we intend to be a Repair Cafe tradition in Sooke.

Local volunteer repair experts will gather downstairs at the hall that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Their mission: To ensure that as many malfunctioning local household items as possible are repaired and returned to productive use. Bonus: The service is free of charge.

The family friendly event welcomes everyone in town to bring items for repair. Anything that is broken is fair game — lamps, hair dryers, clothes, electronic appliances, furniture, bikes, toys, teapots and crockery included. No guarantees, but more than likely these items can be repaired by the specialists. And if not, well, no harm, no foul, no cost in making the effort.

“We trash mountains of stuff on this planet and it’s got to stop,” says our Wendy O’Connor. “Many people have forgotten that they can have things repaired or have been convinced by manufacturers that it’s somehow easier to buy the latest, greatest models. These cafes are a fantastic reminder that we can maintain our possessions over the long term.”

Volunteers confirmed so far include Wendy and Paula Johanson (fabrics), Bernie Klassen and Elgin Ambrose (wood products), Garrath Morgan and his dad Chris (small appliances), and Cast Iron Farm‘s Jeremy Newell.

Additional volunteer fixers are welcome! If you’d like to participate in this cafe or a future one, please check in with our team leads Bernie and Wendy at

Other attractions on May 27: “Community Mike” Russell and his 10-year-old son Kasian will host bike repair clinics for adults and kids respectively. Marion Pettinger will demonstrate how to create healthy batches of kombucha. Bernie will demonstrate silk-screening techniques. And Triston Line from the EMCS Robotics team (and the EMCS Society Programs’ Makerspace work group) will introduce 3D printing.

There will also be a fun work station where youngsters can safely participate in building their own takeaway bat houses. As the Habitat Aquisition Trust has noted, bat populations on southern Vancouver Island are in decline for a variety of reasons and they need our help desperately.

Repair Cafes have become increasingly popular around the world since the first was held in Amsterdam in 2009. They now take place regularly in Victoria and occasionally elsewhere on Vancouver Island.  This will be the debut cafe in Sooke. Operating with a license from Repair Cafe International, ZWS is also planning a follow-up at the Makerspace once it opens at EMCS in the fall. 

O’Connor notes that the cafes promote skill training as experts share their know-how with those keen to learn. “It’s an ongoing learning process for everyone involved,” she says. “If you have nothing to repair, you’re still welcome to drop in, check things out and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Better still, you might be handy enough that you can help out with someone else’s repair job!”

Repair Cafes elsewhere are known for creating community connections as strangers become friends. “If you repair a bike, a CD player or a pair of trousers together with another resident, you look at that person in a new light when next you run into them on the street,” explains Wendy.

It almost goes without saying that repairing items rather than junking them saves money and resources while also minimizing the CO2 emissions that result from the manufacturing their replacements. “But above all,” says Wendy, “we just want to show how much fun repairing things can be and how easy it often is.”

*”masses of stuff” … this is a pun and paraphrase of a famous line etched onto the Statue of Liberty. You’re welcome to bring a selection of malfunctioning items that you can carry with you — no large appliances or automobiles, please. (yes, someone asked!) We’ll operate on a first-come, first-served basis, one item at a time.  You’ll be greeted at the door, assigned a number putting you in the queue for the appropriate work station. Coffee, tea, baked goods and some healthy snacks will be available by small donation.  You’re welcome to gather around our fixers as they work, picking up valuable insights into DIY repairs in the process. We’ll also have a table of repair how-to books to browse. And by all means say hello to whoever’s in your proximity and get to know your fellow Sookies! 🙂