“It’s an honour to have been asked to take the lead such a significant and sobering experience,” says Evan Wile, as he leads a procession of TransCanada employees on a walk to honour military veterans. “Service members sacrificed a great deal for us, and to lead this group who are taking time out of their day to say ‘thank you,’ is special.”
Although it’s November 10, and tomorrow many of us will pay tribute to fallen soldiers at cenotaphs across Canada and the U.S., TransCanada is marking Remembrance Day and Veterans Day a day early to honour those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice and served their countries protect our freedoms.
Wile, an engineer in TransCanada’s Pipeline Integrity group, and an Afghanistan vet, is chair of the company’s Veterans’ Employee Resource Group. He is also responsible for leading Remembrance Day initiatives for TransCanada employees.
“Employees have demonstrated support for veterans in past years through various initiatives, and we’ve brought some of those back this year including this walk to the Field of Crosses,” says Wile.
More than 60 TransCanada employees and contractors took part in the walk to the Field of Crosses this morning.
The walk to the Field of Crosses is an annual tribute to remember the more than 3,200 southern Alberta soldiers that have been killed in action. Each cross is inscribed with the name, rank, regiment, date of death and the age of a fallen soldier.
“Seeing more than 3,200 crosses really puts things into perspective,” says Wile. “Each of them represents a fallen soldier from right here in southern Alberta; someone that may have been a friend or neighbour that put on a uniform and gave it all.
“There are crosses from the Boer War right up to Afghanistan, but for me, it’s the crosses with 2008 or 2009 that bring back the experience and emotions of standing beside a thousand comrades at Kandahar Airfield, watching a flag draped coffin being loaded on an aircraft. Those crosses hit the hardest and really make what this field represents sink in,” Wile says.
The Veterans Group is also organizing a food drive through the Canadian Legacy Project’s Annual Veteran’s Food Drive in support of the Calgary Poppy Fund’s Veteran’s Food Bank.
“Our hope is that we can help make a difference to the many veterans that are struggling to make ends meet during these challenging economic times,” Wile says. “They need our help now more than ever.”
Strong military support recognized
The company’s support for military veterans isn’t solely focused around dates on a calendar.
TransCanada has been acknowledged across North America for its support of military veterans. The company was recognized by the Ohio Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and was awarded one of 75 Patriot Awards given out in the State of Ohio.
The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support Citizen Warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.
Long history of supporting veterans
Part of TransCanada’s diversity strategy is to attract Canadian and U.S. military veterans to its organization. We recognize and value the dedication, discipline and commitment these individuals bring to the workplace.
Since 2000, we have invested more than $1.4 million in veteran initiatives and memorials, and today nearly 10 per cent of our U.S. workforce is comprised of military veterans. We channel most of our efforts through the U.S. Joining Forces program in the U.S. and community partnerships like Helmets to Hardhats and Veterans in Piping.