Rhéal Gervais is an experienced executive with over 30 years of experience in operations, engineering, research and development, business development, solutions architecture and consulting. He most recently held the position of Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Sidense Corp. His previously held positions include Director of Engineering at Intevis Corporation, Director of Solutions Architects at Cadence Design Systems, as well as management and project leadership positions at ATI Technologies and Mitel Semiconductor.
Rhéal started making the connection between the security of his family and the food security of the area where he lived. Since up to 80% of the food in Ontario comes from California, and California is in the midst of a 7-year drought with no end in sight, he became pretty concerned. So, Rhéal became actively involved in the Deep Roots Food Hub to try to increase the resilience of the Ottawa area to future potential food shortages.
- What made you want to be a part of the Deep Roots Food Hub?
I wanted to do what I could to increase the resilience of the Ottawa area to climate change impacts that will adversely impact food supply.
- What does food security mean to you?
Food security means that everyone has a sufficient supply of food to maintain their health.
- Who has been your biggest influence?
There are three major influential people: Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman.
Naomi Klein, who has written a number of books over the last ten years. She is able to describe the intimate relationship between capitalism, corporations and the climate change challenges that face us.
Noam Chomsky, because he has a long term view of what is going on and doesn’t pull any punches. He has a great ability to describe very complex situations in a way that makes it easy to understand. And, he is a prolific writer.
Amy Goodman, who is the host and Executive Producer of “Democracy Now”, an American, daily, independent, award-winning and listener-supported news program. It’s one of the few news programs that is neither owned by nor funded through corporate donations. This results in a very objective and critical newscast. In my opinion, Amy’s program is one of the best examples of what journalism was intended to be like.
- What goals are you working towards in terms of your professional career?
I recently re-entered the engineering consulting field, but in my spare time, I am learning about how firms can become more sustainable.
I have been listening to “Democracy Now” for many years and they report on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks that the United Nations have been hosting for the last 21 years. I always wondered why the business world never took the message of the climate talks to heart by making the necessary changes to their businesses, and why the businesses who were changing were doing it so very slowly.
- If you had the power to solve one food related problem, what would it be and why?
If I could solve one problem, it would be access to sufficient water to grow food.
One of the things that people don’t appreciate is the time it takes for farmers to adapt to climate change impacts such as droughts. If you give a farmer ten years to significantly reduce their water consumption, it may be possible. But it would not be possible at all in 1 or 2 seasons.