Wayne Fast, 52, is a prime example that what you’ll get out of life is whatever you put in.
“If something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would don’t give up, just try it again a different way,” Fast said last week.
Born in Prince Rupert, Fast was adopted at birth by a European family living in Vancouver where he spent the first part of his life. At the age of 35 an inner voice told him he needed to find where and he came from.
“So I started on a journey to find my roots,” he explained.
His quest first led him to Haida Gwaii after learning his mother was of Haida descent. During the four years he spent there he met his wife and had a son.
“Prior to going to Masset I was having dreams of the dock there. It was strange going there and seeing the exact image I dreamt of,” he said.
Continuing his journey he learned his biological mother in fact moved to Prince George, so he made the trip to meet her.
“Turns out she is just another person to me, but I’m glad I got to meet her, I wanted to see where I came from.”
Then one day while still in search of his father, an unfamiliar bank teller who was convinced she knew his father, sadly informed him his father had passed.
“I was disappointed but not crushed. I thought that might be the case anyway.”
Fast and his wife returned to Vancouver for a few months but quickly realized they couldn’t live in that atmosphere so they moved to Prince Rupert.
“I moved back to [the north] because I realized there are many more strengths here. More work is essentially what brought me back here but I love the people and I feel a sense of home here. It’s that internal thing you can’t really put your finger on.” he said.
Shortly after moving back Fast was feeling under- appreciated at his unionized painting job so he started his own company called Peace of Mind, painting anything from boats, planes, houses and high rises.
He quickly become known for his strong work ethic and abilities but says the one thing that helped him start his business was the North West Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program that he graduated from in September 2014.
“The direction was set for me having been a painter for 33 years but once you have a family you don’t want to put money in other people’s pockets. Not only for the money, you want your kids to see you doing stuff,” he said, adding it was the professors who kept motivating him to move forward.
“Just try it. ‘What’s the worst that could happen’ they would say.”
Working for himself, Fast says, is the best move he ever made.
“It’s nice, you can call in sick to yourself and say ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ but I can’t honestly remember the last time I did that. I try to use my work to help the community, not only to beautify the town but through building friendships with my customers. All trades need to go back to the old ways where your word is your word, no short cuts. I see it time and time again in this town, people doing the bare minimum. If I leave something even a little bit off on the worksite I’ll stay up all night until I can get back to deal with it,” he joked.
When he’s not painting, Fast likes to hone his Haida heritage by practicing cultural drum making and collecting medicinal herbs from nearby forests. One of his favourite herbal drinks to make is a special type of lemonade using chaga – found on birch trees – and Hudson Bay leaves mixed with fresh lemons.
“The list of what it will help you with is off the charts. There’s even documentation in Europe that it cures cancer. I just got goosebumps talking about it, that’s how good it is,” he said, adding its one of few herbal medicines you can drink as much as you want without any problems.
“I’ve been drinking it every day for the past six months and there is a noticeable difference, I just feel amazing.”
Fast says he generally gives away his creations as it is part of his First Nation heritage.
“If you follow First Nation belief you don’t sell it you give it away for good karma,” Fast said with a smile.
Since moving to Prince Rupert, Fast says he hasn’t been happier.
“Being in a port town is part of my internal instincts. They draw me to this place and the island. It’s small enough to still feel like a community, where you know everyone you come across, knowing when there’s a newcomer. Buisness seems to be picking up too with LNG speculation. It’s just a good time to be here.”