It has been a whirlwind four months for the Schuurmans’ family since they started the CDN Milk Tour at the end of June, but “Minnie” and “Maple”, along with Henk and the kids made it back home to Milky Wave late last week.
Although the original tour started with excitement, ended in tragedy, and then re-started again in memory, one thing has remained the same: the message of Canadian Quality Milk and the importance of the supply management system in this country.
“We wanted to spread the world about the importance of the supply management system in this country,” said Henk. “By really showing people the importance of Canadian milk and spreading the word about family farming we hope that the next generation will still be able to farm.”
Henk’s three sons, Jim, Tom and Eric are the 10th generation of Schuurmans’ to farm, a legacy that dates back to the 1600’s. The loss of the supply management system would make things difficult for smaller family operations and could severely impact the future of the family farm in this country. Raising awareness is one of the main reasons the Schuurmans’ decided to do the cross-country trip.
After a brief stop at home for Thanksgiving, to catch up on the farm books, and to change the signage to French, Henk and the family set out again, this time bound for the East coast. Various stops were made along the way to hand out pamphlets and milk buttons about the purpose of their trip. The Schuurmans’ made it all the way to Cape Spear in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the eastern most tip of Canada. They enjoyed several stops in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and participated in a Farmer’s Market in New Brunswick as well.
They met parliamentarians in Ottawa and the tour culminated with a visit to the Ontario Legislative Assembly in Toronto, where the whole family joined Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, to again highlight the importance of supply management.
Upon their return home to Milky Wave, the family was greeted by the Waterloo County Milk Committee who have planted a tree at the farm in honour of Bettina.
The Schuurmans family had a nation of dairy supporters behind them as they traveled from coast to coast. They selflessly spread the message of Canadian Milk not just to benefit themselves, but to bring awareness on behalf of all the farm families that make up the tapestry of dairy producers in this country. What they did on this journey was important, and what they lost was immeasurable and can never be replaced.
To say “thank you” doesn’t seem adequate, but thank you nonetheless. Your perseverance through this journey on our behalf has made us proud. Thank you!
Photo’s courtesy of the Schuurmans family
Previous Updates :
Canadian Milk Tour Wraps up Western leg of the cross-country trip
The Canadian Milk Tour wrapped up the Western leg of the journey last week when Henk Schuurmans, along with daughters Lize and Emily, arrived in Victoria, BC, on Vancouver Island.
Henk restarted the Canadian Milk Tour, that he and his wife Bettina had started to raise awareness about supply management and family farming, on September 13, this time by truck instead of tractor. “It’s bittersweet to have made it,” says Henk. “It was difficult to see all the beauty of the country and not be able to share it with my wife, she wanted to see the Rockies so badly.” At the same time, Henk says traveling with his daughters for the last 3 weeks has been special as well, “it is good for the kids to get a taste of the cause of the trip and to see what we were doing, we’ve enjoyed it.”
Throughout the 3 week trip Henk and the girls have marveled at the beauty across the country. “Each province has its own beauty,” says Henk, “from the fall colours and winding hills through lake country in Ontario, the yellow canola fields in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Rockies in Alberta and now to be on the coast of BC, we live in a stunning country.”
The family has also had the opportunity to keep the message of the trip at the forefront. “My wife and I started this journey to make sure that the next generation, my sons included, have a future in the dairy industry,” says Henk. Most of the awareness has happened on the road, marked by the plastic cow on the back of the truck and the signage to create support for Canadian quality milk, but the Schuurmans’ have also been able to pass out buttons and pamphlets at the stops they’ve made along the way. “There’s been lots of interaction right on the road with smiles, waves and honks, we haven’t had one negative response to what we are doing. The people we’ve met and talked to at our stops at gas stations and Tim Hortons are very well informed about the situation as well, which is good to see,” says Henk.
It was extremely important for Henk to finish the Canadian Milk Tour after their accident in Saskatchewan, when Bettina tragically passed away. “We needed to do this for closure and I’m too stubborn to just let it end so abruptly,” says Henk. “The message hasn’t changed and we wanted to do this now to honour Bettina, it wasn’t acceptable to just quit.” Henk is still healing from the accident himself, walking with crutches now after suffering a broken pelvis that required 7 pins on the right side, among other broken bones. “This trip has been part of the healing process for our family.”
The Eastern leg of the trip is also still happening. “We will head home from here and then I need a couple days to catch on the farm books at home and then we will go again,” says Henk. Taking a new route home from BC, Henk plans to stop at some of the farms that opened their doors to him and Bettina originally on the way back to Ontario. At home he will change the signage to French before heading out east, this time with his sons who will be done the fieldwork at the farm by then. “We have plans to go to Toronto, Ottawa to the Parliament Buildings, and then Montreal and Quebec and out to the Maritimes,” says Henk.
Be sure to continue to follow the Canadian Milk tour as they head for the East Coast soon! You can follow on Facebook and on Twitter at #cdnMilkTour!
Photo’s Supplied by the Schuurmans family and Vancouver Island Holstein Club
Previous Updates :
The Canadian Milk Tour Will Resume
Henk Schuurmans plans to resume the Canadian Milk Tour in September to continue the conversation with Canadian dairy farmers.
Henk and his wife Bettina set out a month ago on their John Deere tractor to raise awareness about the Canadian supply management system and Canadian dairy families. Tragically, the couple was in a terrible accident just outside of Saskatoon on July 9, in which Bettina passed away.
Henk, who suffered a broken pelvis and ribs, plans to resume the tour in September after his son’s wedding, but this time in a truck. Each of the Schuurmans children will take turns riding along with their dad, who plans to stop at each of the places that he and Bettina visited the first time around, that have shown tremendous support for the family since the accident.
According the Schuurmans family, the tour will allow Henk to finish what he and Bettina started and had so much fun doing, and will be a way to honour Bettina’s memory as part of the healing process.
The dairy industry reeled after learning the news of the fatal crash during the Canadian Milk Tour on the morning of July 9, just outside of Saskatoon. Henk Schuurmans was taken to hospital with serious injuries while his wife, Bettina, did not survive the impact of the tractor trailer that hit the John Deere tractor the Schuurmans were driving across the country to promote family farms and the Canadian supply management system.
Since then, the Schuurmans children have all gathered in Saskatoon to support Henk, who had surgery this past Thursday. Milky Wave Dairy posted a picture on their social media of Henk standing in the hospital, with a caption that read “making awesome progress.” The family has also reached out on social media thanking everyone for their support and prayers through this tragedy.
The GoFundMe page, started as a fundraiser to help with expenses related to the accident and provide support for the family, has more than quadrupled its $10,000 goal so far, with contributions pouring in from dairy producers across the country. If you’d like to contribute please visit HERE
We continue to show our support for the Schuurmans family during this difficult time. To read more about their story please click on our past posts: Canadian Milk Tour Ends in Tragedy and Travel By Tractor to Support Canadian Dairy Farmers