Cheering on Our FACE™ Athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

July 23rd is a big day for the 371 athletes and 131 coaches on Team Canada. They’ve trained countless hours and made many sacrifices to represent Canada at the Olympic Games, and now Canadians will come together over the next two weeks to cheer them on as they compete in Tokyo!

I’ve always loved watching the Olympic Games. When I was younger, I made sure my whole family was paying close attention and kept up to date on our athletes. I put my small chalkboard in the living room and used it to track Team Canada's progress. I made sure to add sketches, doodles and the names of athletes that stood out, which I'm sure my family appreciated. Today we have our smartphones for instant access to the results, but I think my chalkboard method would still hold up.

Petro-Canada is a long-time supporter of the Canadian Olympic Team, the Canadian Paralympic Team and the Coaching Association of Canada. Every year through the Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence Program (FACE) we select 55 up-and-coming athletes and their coaches from across Canada to receive a FACE grant. These grants come at an important time for young athletes when they’re training to represent Canada at the Paralympic or Olympic Games but don’t yet qualify for government funding. Since 1988 we have given over $12 million in financial support to athletes and coaches.

We also know that even with funding, athletes can’t do it on their own. They need the support of a whole community, including their coaches and family.

Great coaches keep their athletes going through training, dedication and motivating words that stick with them as they reach for that podium. Below are a few inspiring examples.

Families are there to cheer you on, be there during the tough times and celebrate your success. As part of our Canadian Athlete Family Program, starting with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, we implemented a ticketing program that ensured family members of athletes competing at the Games could be there in the stands rooting for their loved ones. We’re supporting families differently this year by sending cheer boxes so they can still celebrate and cheer on their athletes from home.

Canadian Athlete Family Program cheer package

This year is a big milestone for the FACE program: a record 41 FACE recipients in 22 different sports are part of Team Canada. Stay connected with their journey through Petro-Canada’s Facebook and Instagram accounts as they compete in Tokyo. Good luck to them and to all of Team Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!

~Allison D.


Dakota Nation Unity Rides and the Importance of Being “Heart In”

“The šúŋka wakáŋ, the horses - they make people happy. They are good for healing.”

Helena Mazawasicuna tells me about the sacred role of the horse in Dakota culture.

“Horses give people hope and strength. They carry our prayers and emotions. They know when they are needed.”

Helena is a resident of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation (SVDN) and an operator at the Sioux Valley Petro-Canada located on the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation near Griswold, Manitoba. Last year, Helena spoke with me about the meaning of Orange Shirt Day and how non-Indigenous Canadians can take steps towards Indigenous awareness and reconciliation. I am grateful that Helena is back to share information about two recent Unity Rides, organized by members of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

“We will do Dakota Nation Unity Rides for various causes: MS, Kidney Donor Awareness, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), the 60s Scoop. Because horses are sacred, a lot of (Indigenous) people want their funerals to be pulled by horses.”

The Sioux Valley Petro-Canada and Dakota Nation Unity Riders organized two Unity Rides in memory of the Indigenous children found at residential school sites in Kamloops, BC and Brandon, MB and to honour the survivors of Residential Schools. Helena is one of the riders.

Helena riding her horse, Cruz
Helena riding Cruz - Photo Credit: Kimberly Mckay

“To be on the horse carrying the prayer is so powerful. You go with the vision and flow. You are one with the horse.”

Once the Unity Riders arrive at their destination, they share a meal with the spirits of the children.

“Whatever we’re eating, we share it. For kids, we put candy on top of their bowls – all kids like candy. They eat first. Then after we pray, our group will eat. When you feed their spirits, you can feel it. Our children want to be heard from the other side. They want to be reunited with their families.”

On the Petro-Canada Instagram account, we feature several photos and videos, including Helena’s, from the two Unity Rides.

The recent and ongoing discoveries of the bodies of children in unmarked graves at Residential Schools across the country bring up old wounds. But Melissa Tacan – also a member of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation – is hopeful that people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are more open to talking and to telling the truth.

“(Growing up) I always felt like this was something I shouldn’t ask about. But now, it’s all coming out. My grandmother has started talking about it for the first time… Maybe all the kids will finally be found. Be recognized. Get closure. People will actually care.”

Melissa, a manager at the SVDN Petro-Canada, also spoke with me last year about Orange Shirt Day. I’m grateful that she is sharing her thoughts and hopes about what the outcomes will be from the discoveries at Residential Schools.

“Our families want to know what happened to their children, their brothers, their sisters. There is a lot of history (about the treatment of Indigenous people) that hasn’t been told. We need to speak and to be heard about what happened… People seem to be more receptive now. In the past, this hasn’t been important enough. But now is the time for all of us to be ‘heart in’.”

Melissa’s phrase calling for all of us to be “heart in” really struck a cord with me. And it aligned with something Helena said as well, “If you’re going to care, you need to recognize that there is a lot (to uncover).”

Like many Canadians, I was ignorant of the abhorrent treatment of Indigenous peoples by our government and our religious institutions, particularly what the Indian Act authorized. If you’re looking for one book that clearly and succinctly explains how the Indian Act has impacted (and continues to impact) Indigenous peoples in Canada, check out 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph - founder of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., and member of the Gwawaenuk Tribe, located in the Queen Charlotte Strait region of the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada. The book is based on an article he wrote for CBC with the same name.

As always, I am thankful that Helena and Melissa shared their stories with me and allow me to share those stories with our readers. I encourage you to check out the photos and videos featured on our Instagram – the healing power of the horses, the šúŋka wakáŋ, really does come through.

~Kate T. (she/her)


Celebrating Pride with Our True Authentic Selves

“Are you married?” asked the cab driver. I looked down at the engagement ring and wedding band on my left hand.

“Yeah.” I smiled.

“Where’s your husband?” he asked. “Why isn’t he going out with you tonight?”

My smile slowly faded. It’s a judgment call every queer person has to make, often multiple times a day – at work, school or other public spaces. How much information do you share with a stranger? I live in Canada, in Vancouver. Surely it’s safe to be queer here.

The reality is, in 2019, police reported over 300 hate crimes across Canada that had to do with sexuality or gender identity/expression. So, not as safe as we all think.

That’s why it’s so important to have leaders like Chris Forward, General Manager of Harvey's Oil Ltd., a Petro-Canada distributor that sells and distributes petroleum products throughout Newfoundland. Last year, we interviewed Chris about his work as co-chair of Pride at Work Canada, an organization that supports Canadian employers as they build workplaces that celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Suncor (the proud parent of Petro-Canada) is a member of Pride at Work Canada.

This year, in the following video, Chris shares his passion for being able to bring your true authentic self to work and for leaders, like himself, to be out and open at work – to show employees that it is safe for them to do so.

I love how Chris closes this video:

Live by the Leaf to me means: We represent all Canadians. And we lift up all Canadians. No matter what their background is.

The Suncor queer employee resource group, PRISM, has put together the following list of links for folks who want to be an ally to the queer community or if your workplace wants to foster a welcoming and authentic environment.

Back to my cab ride. In the end, I chose an ambiguous answer “My partner is meeting me at the restaurant.” Fortunately, the cab driver left it at that. All the more reason to appreciate leaders like Chris – and to look forward to the day we can all be our true authentic selves everywhere.

~Kate T. (she/her)