Since 1999 my work with the different Governor Generals of Canada has been nothing short of a honour. Each one in their own right touched me with their passions, openness, and mutual love of our country: the land that binds so many from so many places. With Romeo Leblanc and the first Aboriginal Day, Adrienne Clarkson and her celebration of the arts and cultural fabric of modern Canada, Michelle Jean and her tireless work for countries in need of a hand, to Governor General David Johnston and his open handshakes to marathon runners at the steps of Rideau Hall I learned more about Canada, its place in the world and my own understanding of what it means to live in Canada in 2019.

So to say I’m very excited to have “Trust: Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country” in my hands now may be a tab bit of an understatement. For four years I had the privilege to work with him and his staff professionally, to talk of Canada, children and running.  Through all my meetings and interactions with him none was more insightful then when I would see him greeting all the runners with a warm smile, handshake and proverbial “You can do it.”

Standing there waiting for the next runner he said you matter; each and every one of those that ran by.  For in his vision of Canada we all matter, the strong and weak. So as I get ready to read Trust, I do so with the knowledge that by number 20 my life and my vision of Canada will forever be influenced and that I will share that vision with others to keep building Canada’s future from some of its greatest citizens.

 

The iconic marketing and sales money by Canadian Tire touches just about everyone in Canada on a regular basis. Perhaps not as a frequent customer, but as one who has stashes throughout the car or house, or in the case of my mother, a stack clipped to the fridge; a constant reminder of the Canadian tire brand and potential cash discount.

As a child I loved when my parents would allow me to collect their 5 cent, 10 cent and when lucky, 50 cent bills. For those not from Canada, the bills are in denominations ranging from 5 cents and up, all paper. I was able to use those precious bills at my local store; after riding their on my trusty CCM.

My local Canadian Tire store is where my love for Jumpstart started. Canadian Tire was always local and invested in the community (as they are today). The day I saw the first sign was the day I was outfitting my son for his first season of hockey. There I was, a young parent, with a single income household and mortgage. I was calculating the cost of leaving the store with a fully outfitted hockey player. This was all new to me as I did not play hockey and to this day still consider the rink walls my most important piece of equipment.

Watching the sales clerk walk my son through the aisles, trying on the chin guards, gloves, pants and on and on my wallet started to hurt. What had first started out as a continuous calculation as the cart filled, soon turned into that question, “how can families afford this?”

Ours had no true understanding what expense we were getting into until that day but it was too late now as the next great one’s parents had already committed. It was at that point I saw the poster for Jumpstart at the end of the skate aisle; rather strategic I would say. A reminder to us that could afford our children’s foray into the expensive Canadian past-time, way more expensive than a Beavertail on a winter afternoon. A sign telling us how Canadian Tire cared about youth activities, youth health.  Issues that had already started to be part of the national discourse on child and youth obesity.

The sign had shocking stats about the need and the way they were assisting families meet the wishes of their children. It was a very overpowering moment. Not because they told me the need, was prevalent in the media. It was the fact they had a simple, community-based solution. A solution that looked at many activities (70 today) for children with diverse interests but with one dream, to be part of activities with classmates and other peers in their community.

Since that day I try to make sure my Canadian Tire money goes in the bucket. Having the blind faith that Jumpstart was doing exactly what they claimed. Having spent a career working for non-profits I had become conscious of the new charities and foundations constantly sprouting up when our country already had over 60,000 registered charities: way more today. Each with a board, executive director, fax machine… But I trusted the brand and continued to give and continued to see in the media all the incredible work the program was doing. Simply put, Jumpstart showed results for a critical need in the country.

Then I started working for a large well-established Canadian non-profit that was also entrenched in communities across the country and my appreciation grew for Jumpstart. As I moved from community to community in my role I learned about our partnerships with Jumpstart. The long standing and trusted relationships based on a common goal, helping disadvantaged families. Active living was not my organizations’ focus, our focus was on assisting families and individuals to overcome socio-economic obstacles in order to lead healthier more independent lives. The health and well-being of children and youth was a common goal. And I would add, a goal that looked at the recipients holistically. Jumpstart created an avenue for us to talk to families about other needs once they came under the umbrella of the two entities.

My appreciation of Jumpstart runs deep. In my opinion the beauty of the program is twofold:

  • Community based delivery based on local knowledge and brand trust; and,
  • Using sport and activities for children and youth as an opportunity to recognize and address broader issues through program linkages that provide whole solutions while helping children be active and have FUN.

I hope you will join me in placing all of your Canadian Tire money in the buckets when you next go to their stores. Or, if you have children, teach them how a few cents can make a difference in the lives of children in their own community and school.

More about Jumpstart can be found on their website below:

Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart: Over 1.6 Million Kids Supported

 

 

 

“Home isn’t a place, it is a feeling.” Cecelia Ahern

For years I had been considering how to best express my national identity through a tattoo. I have wonderful memories from my childhood Growing up in the US. It was a truly middle class experience; with a twist.

Our family moved between Ohio and Missouri as my father left the military after Vietnam and went back to university and became a professor of business. We settled in St. Louis and spent those years involved in sports, school, and travel.

The travel was amazing. Every summer during the university break the parents packed us all up in the car and headed off to explore America. Some years East, some years west. Some of my best memories. Seeing the Atlantic ocean for my first time in Maine, spending days playing in amazing tidal pools, trying fried clams and watching my sister scream when her lobster came to the table. Or when we travelled west and had the most amazing lightning storm in Kansas, all night the sky was lit up.

Colorado was a common part of western trips as my mothers sister and brother all ended up there. The sisters as I like to say because the followed John Denver, my uncle because he was in the Airforce. We saw that state inside and out, many firsts. Mountains of course, white water rafting (not my fav at that age), horseback riding…

Through all our trips and other experiences through life, including going to Ohio University for grad school I collected a lifetime of memories and connections. Some of my work during grad school offered me insight into white poverty, I had seen so much urban, mostly black poverty in St, Louis, the experience in Ohio was an eye opener. Clearly a post on its own one day.

So then I moved to Nova Scotia at the ripe old age of 13. I went from being the only white kids in most of my classes to a school with lest than a dozen visible minorities. A school in a very affluent part of Halifax. The first year was a bit difficult to find my way around on many levels, but what started with this move was a passion for the ocean and the people of Nova Scotia. What is said about these Bluenose folks is all true.

The one thing I will never forget was our first night camping in Nova Scotia. We headed for Cape Breton and came face to face with blackflies. We had never dealt with such….

I’m truly rambling. The point is the tattoo I wanted was to reflect that I am a man of two nations, influenced by a lifetime of experiences through the people and the lands. I decided that I am Canadian , thus the maple leaf, and I have a love for MY America, thus the fill.

Works for me. It also allows me to focus on my next tattoo now, one that will capture the seeker and lifetime of travel around the world.

The tattoo was designed and inked at the Halifax location of Adept Tattoos by

Adept Tattoos