Pleased to Introduce: Jacqueline Kittel, Manager of the VCBC

In the 24 years that I have been working with the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, many people have attempted to help keep the ship on course though few have been up to the task.  Managing a compassion club might seem like a dream come true to a teenager, but to be successful in this field it requires a great deal of patience, knowledge, empathy, determination, connections, self-awareness, passion and a deep commitment to community.  The VCBC is such huge responsibility to keep going and has huge potential for all connected to it. It takes a special person to step up to the plate to make sure this organization operates smoothly.

We believe we have found that special person in Jacqueline Kittel.  

Photo by Rick Collins

Do not let her good looks, her youth, or her impressive hoola-hoop skills fool you. At the tender age of 25, she has earned her place as manager of the VCBC due to her diligence,  straight-forward attitude, and intelligence.  She is mature beyond her years, with a mind so sharp it was a little intimidating to me when she first started here.

My connection to Jacq began at the Hempology 101 Club at the University of Victoria where she was studying Gender and Business.  She contacted me about a research paper she was doing just before I temporarily retired from cannabis activism. This took place shortly after the death of Gayle Quin, and gave me an opportunity to engage with her sharp intellect.  In fact, helping her with the research paper was about the only thing I really did in the cannabis field during those dark days.

Her paper turned out to be an extraordinary contribution to the intellectual and cannabis community. Jacqueline won first place in the 2018 Undergraduate Essay Prize from the Women’s and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF), the national professional association for the academic discipline of Women’s and Gender Studies in Canada. She was also published in the peer-reviewed UVic academic journal for her paper, titled “Women in Weed: Gender, Race and Class in the Cannabis Industry” (2018) The Arbutus Review. Volume 9. Pages 32-45.  https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/arbutus/article/view/

At the same time as studying full time and graduating with distinction for academic excellence, Jacq also worked hard in the cannabis community for several years.  In the flurry of new dispensaries open in Victoria, BC she worked at four different establishments while in school, giving her a wide perspective on how this industry functions.  When she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria, Major in Gender Studies with a Minor in Business in June 2018, the world was her oyster.

That is when we swooped in and poached her. Jacqueline was head hunted to work for the VCBC in April of 2018. 

Royal Roads Business Program: VCBC Case Study
(Left to Right: Ted Smith, Jacqueline Kittel, Julia Veintrop)

At the time the VCBC was starting to recover from years of problems and a massive debt.  It had been just over six months since my return to the club and we were working hard to rebuild a solid core team.  Our small but dedicated crew was frail, unfocused and uncertain of our future.

Julia Veintrop was managing the club with me at the time, as she was the anchor upon which this club rested during those turbulent times.  It was not long before Jacq proved herself as an excellent communicator among the staff and to the members. Whether it was creating an agenda and running the staff meeting, or taking the time necessary to introduce a new member to the club, she has truly embraced her role as a caregiver and coworker in our unique collective.

When Julia informed us that she was leaving in November of 2019 to follow new adventures in Vancouver. It was ironic that it was on Julia’s last day as manager, when we got raided. I did not want to burden any of the remaining staff with all of her responsibilities and I took on much of the managing myself while delegating as much as possible.  While it was amazing how much Julia was able to accomplish when she was here, it seemed much better to disperse her jobs to between staff after she left, and to not add any more stress to any single person when she was gone.

Protest at the Legislature after the Raid, November 15th 2019
Photo by Matt Love

Protest at the Legislature after the Raid, November 15th 2019
Photo by Matt Love

However, it was clear that one person here could take on the responsibility of manager.  After a few months of letting things settle after the raid, the loss of Julia and taking on three new staff, Jacq has risen to fill the role of manager.  She is going to thrive and the club will thrive with her.

It was during the raid and the next day that Jacq really impressed me.  Soon after the CSU entered our building, she took the protest signs and organized the rally outside with coworkers, answering questions from the media and directing the crowd.  The next day when we reopened, she bravely stood on the front line to make sure our suffering members got the medicine they needed, proud and defiant.

Day of the raid, November 14th 2019
Photo by Matt Love

Since starting to work at the club, Jacq has also come out of her shell with performance art of various types.  It has been wonderful to see her shift from being super serious all of the time, to having time and space for play with things like fire-spinning, dance, and hoola hoop shows.  She even went to Burning Man last summer, and she has been continuing to grow and blossom before our eyes.

OtherWorld Regional Burning Man
Photo by Fractal Five

With Jacq as manager, this will give me the opportunity to focus more on the bigger picture and helping the club survive legalization.  Of course I will still be involved with many of the clubs functions, especially supply, human resources and maintenance, but I can pay a little less attention to the retail end of the organization.  It has also been very helpful for the staff to have someone to talk to about things they might not feel like bothering me for but are still important.

Whether it is writing for the Cannabis Digest, overhauling our mail order, supporting the staff, getting supplies, assisting a hurting member, or cleaning the bathroom; Jacq is proving herself to be a true leader with a zeal for justice and enthusiasm for helping those in need.  We are so very blessed to have this wise soul helping to lead our precious society through these intense days. Whatever our future holds, we will be much stronger with her at the helm.

Ted Smith
President and Founder of the VCBC

The cover page of the Times Colonist, April 21st 2019.