Looking at j’Amey Bevan’s resume, it’s clear she has had a rewarding career. Bevan has dedicated herself to the Boilermakers and is now a 24-year journeyworker at Local 146 (Edmonton, Alberta). Starting her career in shop and field construction work, she then held a position for 14-years in the local’s Apprenticeship and Education department, where her roles included instructor, apprentice coordinator and director. She also held a six-year term on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board, during which she had the important job of advising the Minister of Advanced Education on all trades in Alberta. Today, she is the Canadian Director of National Training for the Boilermakers National Training Trust Fund.
But how Bevan’s career began may surprise you: She was originally working toward a career in the equine industry; training and caring for horses.
As a teenager, Bevan’s grandfather sent her to summer horse camps and she immediately fell in love with the large animals. Over four summers she learned how to ride and care for horses. After high school, she entered Lakeland College’s two-year horsemanship diploma program in Vermillion, Alberta. Her initial plan was to acquire troubled horses and help get them back on their feet, but she quickly realized that entering the industry was expensive. She couldn’t afford the ranch she had been dreaming of for so long: she needed a way to finance her hobby—and take care of herself.
“I bought my first horses while I was in college. I had horses and no home,” Bevan says. “I guess that really is putting the cart before the horse.”
Bevan’s introduction to the Boilermaker trade came through a neighbor who knew that Boilermaker work could help her realize her dream. Her first job was on a shutdown and she found herself excited about the possibilities that becoming a Boilermaker offered. She began her career with the Boilermakers in 1998, and as a third-year apprentice she was able to buy a 25-acre ranch.
Today, Bevan’s ranch has grown. She and her husband live on 65-acres of land, complete with a barn and an indoor arena. Her herd size has increased as well. The pandemic offered more time at home and an opportunity to foster some horses in need. The Bevans were "foster-fails," though, because they ended up adopting all the horses they fostered from the rescue.
“In 2020 we broke ground on the sanctuary because of the pandemic. We decided to foster some horses from a local horse rescue,” Bevan says. “We have now become a horse sanctuary. Animals that come here stay here. We have 19 equine residents including 14 horses, one mini pony, one mammoth jack donkey, and four miniature donkeys. As the sanctuary grows, we hope to also increase the variety of residents to include goats, pigs, and many other animals in need of a safe, friendly place to live out their days.”
All her adopted animals will live out the rest of their days at Rubicon Ranch Sanctuary.
“We want to ensure our horses have a life free of stress and live as horses are meant to,” Bevan says. “They have a herd, shelters, and lots, and lots of food. They graze and just behave like horses.”
Many of the horses came to Bevan from stressful and traumatizing situations; abused, neglected, and destined for slaughter in the horse meat industry. Canada is currently one of the top exporters of horse meat in the world. While many are calling for a ban on horse slaughter and live horse exports to foreign countries, thousands of horses are still slaughtered every year.
“We took in a mare and a two-week-old foal. They came from Horse Heroes Rescue, who was able to stop them from going for meat,” says Bevan. “A few months later, we took in two more mares who were in rough shape and also headed for meat, one of whom was pregnant. Unknown to us at the time, the first mare who came with the foal was also pregnant, and ten months after she moved in, Henry was born. Henry has been such a gift: he’s so laid back and kind, very smart, and has added so much life to the herd.”
Caring for such a large herd can be a lot of work, but thanks to Bevan’s horsemanship education and her experience and training as a Boilermaker, she can handle everything but the toughest veterinary work at the ranch.
“I know I can tackle anything when situations happen on the ranch. I have skills and the knowledge. There isn’t much I can’t figure out,” Bevan says. “Horses can get themselves into trouble sometimes and you have to solve those problems fast. Thanks to the Boilermakers, I have years of problem solving experience and the confidence of knowing that there isn’t much I can’t do. It’s been a phenomenal career that has given me the tools and the finances to enable me to have horses in my life.”
Bevan has given these horses a second chance at life, and one day, in the not-too-distant future, her sanctuary will provide a place for people to meet the residents and learn about horses and other rescue animals.
“We have the opportunity to share the gifts of these animals,” she says, “and with their consent they will be part of equine education and equine facilitated learning events, workshops and retreats.”
Interested in learning more about Rubicon Ranch? Check out the sanctuary’s website: www.rubiconranch.ca