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Pulse Canada CEO reflects on tenure

Apr 01, 2021
By Hayley Tanner

After almost 25 years as chief executive officer at Pulse Canada, Gordon Bacon has decided to hand the reins over to the next “great leader.” 

Bacon, who retired at the end of March, admits it was “passion for the work being done and its vitality to the industry” that made it easy to hold the position for so long.

“You really feel like you’ve made a contribution to society,” Bacon explained. “I think the job was the big reward for me; the feeling I got when I (went) to work. It’s not something you put on your shelf.… We really made a difference.”

Change is good for an organization, Bacon remarked, and the future looks bright. He has worked alongside his replacement, Greg Cherewyk for the past 18 years.

“We’ve worked closely together as partners in all things Pulse Canada,” Bacon said of the relationship. “There truly is no one who knows more about Pulse Canada than Greg. He will be a terrific leader.”

Despite choosing to step down, Bacon will remain a constant within the global initiative.

“While my CEO position will end, I plan to continue to work with the global pulse connection to ensure we continue to focus on defining the role pulses can play in system transformations to reflect human and environmental health,” he said. “I think we did good things and there’s a lot of work left to do.”

Whether animal protein or plant-based, all food has to be looked at from the same perspective, Bacon said of current issues trending in the industry. 

“We have successfully started a transition in consumer demand, which is reflected in new plant-based facilities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.” 

The facilities centre on healthy, affordable, nutritious and sustainable food.

“Healthy people, healthy planet. Those are four words that summarize what I’m proud of,” Bacon said.

Trending Video

How a Desire to Lead Brought This Wheat Breeder to Canada

Video: How a Desire to Lead Brought This Wheat Breeder to Canada

Gurcharn Singh Brar is a wheat breeder whose path meandered from the breadbaskets of Punjab, India, to the sprawling fields of the Prairies. In a candid conversation, Brar shared insights into his journey, the challenges faced, and the undying passion that fuels his quest for better crops.

It all began with a childhood rooted in the wheat fields of Punjab, where agriculture isn’t just a livelihood but a way of life. His fascination with wheat and its potential led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences at Punjab Agricultural University. It was during this time that he encountered the spectre of rust diseases, particularly stripe rust, which plagued the region’s wheat crops. Determined to combat this menace, he set his sights on a journey that would take him across continents.

Venturing abroad for his graduate studies, he found himself in Saskatchewan at the Crop Development Centre (CDC), working under the mentorship of renowned researchers like Randy Kutcher and Pierre Hucl. Here, he delved deep into the world of wheat genetics, focusing on stripe rust resistance — a quest that would shape his academic pursuits for years to come.

After completing his master’s and Ph.D. in six and a half years, he embarked on a professional journey that would see him traverse academia and research. From brief stints as a research officer to landing his dream faculty position at the University of British Columbia’s Plant Science program, his career trajectory was marked by a strong drive to make a difference in the world of wheat.

Despite the allure of British Columbia’s unique agricultural landscape, he found himself wanting to return to the vast expanses of the Prairies, where wheat reigns supreme. He recently returned to the Prairies and is the new wheat breeder at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

“The opportunity to lead an established wheat breeding program at the University of Alberta was a dream come true. With the necessary resources and infrastructure in place, I’m excited to drive innovation and develop high-yielding wheat varieties tailored to the unique conditions of northern Canada,” he says.

Brar, one of Seed World Canada‘s 2024 Next-Gen Leaders, has become known for identifying novel sources of resistance to priority diseases and his efforts in developing wheat germplasm with multiple disease-resistant traits.

In addition to his groundbreaking research, Brar is committed to mentoring the next generation of agricultural scientists.

“I believe in nurturing talent and empowering students to pursue their passions,” he says. “Watching my students grow and thrive in their research endeavours is hugely rewarding.”

As he looks ahead, Brar’s vision for the future of wheat breeding is clear: “My number one target is to develop high-yielding wheat varieties adapted to the northern climates of Canada. By focusing on early maturity and strong straw traits, we can maximize yield potential while ensuring resilience to environmental challenges.”

His decision to also join the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye, and Triticale (PGDC) executive as member-at-large came from a desire to play an even more important role in the world of Canadian cereals.