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December 22, 2022

Grey County Reads: No Bootstraps when You’re Barefoot by Wes Hall

Kym Snarr with No Bootstraps When You're Barefoot book

Kym Snarr with her book choice: No Bootstraps When You're Barefoot by Wes Hall.


BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — Kym Snarr is on the front lines of organic integrity, visiting processor, crop and livestock facilities to ensure organic compliance guidelines are being met. Her work as an Organic Inspector takes her many places but it's her love of nature that feeds her need to travel. She is one of several book champions in the 2013 Grey County reads contest. Her Canadian-authored book choice is No Bootstraps when You’re Barefoot by Wes Hall.

No Bootstraps when You’re Barefoot is the second non-fiction title chosen in the 2023 Grey County Reads contest. Author Wes Hall spent his early childhood in a zinc-roofed shack, one of several children supported by his grandmother. That was paradise compared to the two years he lived with his verbally abusive and violent mother; at thirteen, his mother threw him out, and he had to live by his wits for the next three years. At sixteen, Wes came to Canada, sponsored by a father he'd only seen a few times as a child, and by the time he was eighteen, he was out of his father's house, once more on his own. Yet Wes Hall went on to become a major entrepreneur, business leader, philanthropist, and change-maker, working his way up from a humble position in a law firm mailroom by way of his intelligence, his curiosity, and his ability to see opportunities that other people don't.

When people expected his thick Jamaican accent, lack of money and education, not to mention the colour of his skin, to shut down his future, Wes was not to be stopped. He is still overturning expectations to this day. Well aware of racism and injustice, his lack of privilege and the other roadblocks to his success, Wes has always believed that he can walk along any cliff edge without falling. His book teases out and shows how he fostered that resolve in himself, exploring his childhood and the milestone successes and failures of his career in order to share not only how he stopped himself from falling, but survived and thrived, and then dedicated himself to bringing his family and his community along with him.

Now, with the founding of the BlackNorth Initiative, Wes takes aim at ending systemic anti-Black racism. It's a huge goal, but one he's tackling with heart, soul, smarts, and every connection he's made in an extraordinary career that's taken him to the centre of the Canadian establishment. Throughout his life he's resisted sinking into despair or getting lost in anger; now he wants to tell truth to power and pave a path forward.

Wes Hall is one of Canada's most successful business leaders — the founder of the BlackNorth Initiative and the newest and first Black Dragon in CBC's Dragon's Den. In No Bootstraps when You’re Barefoot, he brings a rags-to-riches story that also carries a profound message of hope and change.

 


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