It was noon at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Calgary and TransCanada employee, Cristi Adams, looked at ease sitting in a director’s chair behind bright lights and a camera. She was preparing to be interviewed about her experience as a mentee and mentor for TransCanada’s very own Mentoring Moments commercial – one in a series of commercials that aims to deliver a compelling call-to-action for Albertans to mentor youth in their communities.
“It was an honour to be chosen to participate in this awareness campaign created by Alberta Mentoring Partnership (representing Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer) and the Government of Alberta, said Adams, project manager at TransCanada. “I owe most of my success as a working professional, a mentor and a mother, to my own mentor from high school who gave me the support I needed and I am glad I can help encourage others to do the same.”
When Minister Bhuller from the Department of Human Services put out a call to industry to stand behind the Government of Alberta in its goal of encouraging Albertans to become more engaged as mentors in their communities, TransCanada was the first company to formally answer that call with an investment of $45,000 to the Alberta Mentoring Partnership Mentoring Moments volunteer awareness campaign.
“In addition to our donation to the campaign, we offered to feature a TransCanada employee in a commercial,” says Sheila Flemmer, senior community investment advisor at TransCanada. “We sent out a casting-call to our employees across Alberta asking them to submit their own mentorship stories and the response was overwhelming. After a lot of deliberation, we chose Cristi Adams to be our TransCanada mentorship ambassador.”
At 15-years-old, Adams found a mentor in one of her favorite high school teachers, who inspired her advocacy for her culture and her love of community involvement. Cristi worked with her mentor to develop a curriculum aimed at keeping her fellow Aboriginal students in school, and was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh award for her efforts. Since that experience, Adams has dedicated time from her day-to-day life to being a positive influence in the lives of others as a formal and informal mentor to youth within the Calgary Board of Education, an advisor to Mayor and Council and through internal and external committee work.
“Sometimes, mentoring goes beyond career or school advice,” says Adams. “Sometimes all you need is to know that someone is there and wants to help in any way they can— anyone can make a real and tangible difference in the life of someone else without a large time commitment, and I encourage everyone to be involved. It’s also very personally rewarding, you take as much out of the experience as you give.”
TransCanada is proud to stand behind the Government of Alberta and their mentorship recruitment campaign, which includes the Alberta Mentoring Partnership Mentoring Moments volunteer awareness campaign #8000mentors.
Albertans are encouraged to sign up to become a mentor at Albertamentors.ca/8000mentors.
Cristi’s casting-call submission:
There is one particular day in 2003 that stands out to me as my most rewarding mentorship experience. I was mentoring at risk aboriginal youth through the Calgary Board of Education’s Stay in School Program and I was asked to spend a day with an aboriginal girl at risk of dropping out of school. I was told that the girl’s teachers, social-workers and friends had all tried to explain how important it is to stay in school, but she refused. So, when it came time for me to try, I didn’t launch into the usual script.
After a few hours of getting to know each other, she revealed why she was finding it so difficult to be in school. It turns out she had gone through a very traumatizing experience and didn’t have anyone to talk to about it – she felt alone. So, we spent the day talking about her struggles and how I could support her as a mentor. At the end of the day, she hugged me and thanked me for my help. Then, she asked for my number to keep in touch.
In that moment I felt I had given back to the universe what my high school teacher gave to me. I have kept in touch with her throughout the years, and am proud to know I had a level of involvement in her graduating from high school. All she needed was a mentor, someone who cared.
– Cristi Adams, TransCanada Employee, Aboriginal Advocate, Proud Mother and Mentor