Water gives Kendal Shepard peace of mind and, here on the North Coast, he has found plenty of both.
“Being around the water is serenity … [I feel most like myself] on, in or around water,” the lifelong Rupertite said.
Growing up, Kendal was part of an active family that lived so close to mountains that they were practically in their backyard. As a child Kendal and his brother would explore the wilderness, making adventures for themselves. Their family also did a lot of camping and all of the activities that go along with it.
“We took advantage of everything Prince Rupert and the region had to offer and we really enjoyed it,” Kendal said.
While he was young, Kendal was part of the scouts program and countless recreational sports teams, one of which was swimming. Kendal said as a child he was such a bad swimmer that he decided to quit, but while in high school he gave it another shot and it ended up becoming a passion of his.
When Kendal was in his early-20s he landed a dream job, starting off his career at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre as a lifeguard in 2001.
But his passion for water wasn’t the only reason Kendal wanted to pursue the profession. While attending high school, more than one of his classmates passed away in water-related incidents.
“I’ve had some close friends pass in my life and I thought if I could do anything for the community it would be to educate those around me about safe water habits … to keep people from experiencing the things we had to experience in high school,” explained Kendal.
Many of what Kendal considers to be his biggest achievements are connected to his job, including becoming the aquatic leaders of the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre within the 10-year goal he set.
Another has been witnessing the success of the Junior Lifeguard Club, which he supported and helped to build over the years.
“Those kids we trained from eight years of age to 18 are becoming our lifeguards now. That was the main goal,” he said.
“We just hired three participants that were either guard squad and or juniors.”
And Kendal’s contributions to the centre extend to outside of the swimming pool. Having an eye for art, Kendal saw potential in a 20-ft. concrete support pole in the lobby. In 2008, Kendal called down to the city’s director of recreation services and suggested the structural pillar be modelled into a totem pole. During annual maintenance, Tsimshian artist Russell Mather completed painting a motif of Coast Tsimshian crests on it.
For the majority of the time Kendal has been at Earl Mah he has also worked at the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yachting Club. His time with the club has spanned approximately a decade, being employed from 2000 until 2005 and then returning in 2011. Today Kendal is the club’s caretaker, managing its facilities and crew.
Kendal said both of his jobs require him to be somewhat of a Prince Rupert ambassador with plenty of out of town guests coming through, particularly at the yacht club.
“Everybody’s on holidays, are happy when they come to Prince Rupert and you get to share all your experience and knowledge. It’s a great opportunity to make Prince Rupert shine. Even though it’s wet you can boost spirits,” Kendal said, adding he commonly hears tourists praise the community’s warmth and hospitality.
And he is one of many who make Prince Rupert what it is. For Kendal, helping others whenever possible and radiating positive energy despite personal hardships are rules to live by.
“I try to do one good deed a day … that’s just the way life should be,” he said.
Kendal is content with his life in Prince Rupert and said he has no plans of leaving anytime soon. He has been spending his spare time renovating his house, which he shares with his two Shepherd-Malamute-Husky dogs.
With an array of activities like kayaking, fishing, hiking and more being easily accessible, the North Coast has too much to offer for Kendal to want to leave.
And the water-loving Rupertite even enjoys being out in the rain.