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'Repair Matters' group hopes to empower people with fix it skills

"So we're really trying to help people find resources and maybe even learn for themselves how to fix something for next time instead of throwing it away." said repairmatters.ca co-founder Shea O'Neil.

It's never a bad idea to try and fix something," says co-founder Shea O'Neil

Participants at a Repair Matters event on Saturday, May 21, 2016 in Vancouver that encourages and empowers people to fix things, rather than throw them away. (Alex Lamic/Radio-Canada)

Every month now since June 2015, Shea O'Neil and three other women she founded repairmatters.ca with find a space for people to bring broken electronics, sewing machines, vacuums and toys to try and figure out how to fix them, rather than throw them away.

"We find a lot of people now, something's broken and they don't know what to do about it so they just end up throwing it away and buying a new one because that's the easiest way to do things," said O'Neil on Saturday from Vancouver's Grace Memorial United Church on East 16th Avenue.

Repair Matters supplies tools at its events to help participants take apart and repair whatever they bring in. (Alex Lamic/Radio-Canada)

"So we're really trying to help people find resources and maybe even learn for themselves how to fix something for next time instead of throwing it away."

O'Neil along with Jessica Beketa and two Emily Carr University graduates founded Repair Matters to not only reduce waste, but also develop problem solving skills. Co-founder Karen Byskov and Jayde Chang worked on a grad project at Emily Carr that was all about repair.

A volunteer at a Repair Matters event attempts to fix a sewing machine. (Alex Lamic/Radio-Canada)

"We're always looking for people to volunteer and help out ... fixing skills, sewing skills and help people fix things that might end up in the landfill otherwise," said O'Neil at the group's latest fix it gathering.

At Grace United people brought old audio electronics to fix and sewing machines plus clothes to be mended and repaired. Everything Repair Matters does is based on volunteer efforts and their knowledge — everything though is done for free.

"It's never a bad idea to try and fix something," said Repair Matters co-founder Shea O'Neil. "You definitely learn something in the process about what's inside of these little machines that we use everyday, so it's very interesting." (Alex Lamic/Radio-Canada)

"We'll do our best, no guarantees," said O'Neil. "A lot of things can be fixed, they just need little parts. Even just taking the thing apart and putting it back together again, sometimes magically it will work again."

O'Neil admits that the appeal of the group has been inconsistent. At some events a line-up of people are waiting to get in, while at others barely a handful of people come.

Repair Matters changes locations every month and lists events on its website and Facebook page.

Organizers of Repair Matters admit that turn out for their events, which have been running monthly since June 2015, are hit and miss. (Alex Lamic/Radio-Canada)