Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from PumpTalk

It’s time, once again, to say goodbye to another year, and look forward to the new one ahead. As 2022 draws to a close, we’d like to say a few “thank-yous”!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from PumpTalk

To our readers, thank you for making PumpTalk a part of your week, and to all those who took the time to be interviewed for our posts, thank you for sharing your experience and expertise with us!

Thank you to all of you who spend the extra time to take care of your vehicles and drive with caution in wintry conditions. In the coming days, many of us will be on the roads as we prepare for celebrations and visit loved ones - let’s drive safely and look out for each other!

To all of the Petro-Canada staff and associates who are working to keep us fuelled up over the holidays, an extra special thank you!  If you need a warming cup of coffee on a long drive or a last-minute stocking stuffer (gift cards? instant lottery?) our stations have got you covered.

This is our last post of the year, and we’ll see you back here in January. We wish you and yours a healthy, relaxing holiday season and a peaceful New Year!

Innovation and Inclusion in Sport: An Interview with Paralympian Zak Madell

At Petro-Canada, we believe in the transformative power of sport, for both individuals and communities. We see it in the growth and development of the Canadian athletes and coaches we support through the Petro-Canada Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE) grants. We feel it when we watch Canadians compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and all of Canada comes together to root for the athletes and coaches wearing the maple leaf.

This belief is one of the reasons that we’re excited about the theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3): Transformative solutions for inclusive development - the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world. In particular, the UN holds up sport as an exemplar case in innovation for disability inclusive development and a sector for innovation, employment and equity.

Zak Madell, Wheelchair Rugby, Tokyo 2020
Photo Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

We wanted to hear from a Canadian athlete about how innovation has impacted their sport. Last year in our interview with Catherine Gosselin-Després, Executive Director of Sport at the Canadian Paralympic Committee, we learned about on-site repairs for athletes during the Paralympic Games, especially in the rough-and-tumble sport of wheelchair rugby (aka Murderball), so that seemed like a good place to start for a chat about innovation in sport. We were delighted to connect with Zak Madell, wheelchair rugby athlete and 3-time Paralympian.

When Zak was 10, he lost his fingers and legs to a septic staph infection. After his recovery, Zak first got involved in Para ice hockey, but had difficulty holding the stick well enough to play at a high level. Next, he was introduced to wheelchair basketball, which appealed to his competitive nature and his love of speed. Finally, he was recruited to wheelchair rugby in 2011 and has experienced a meteoric rise in the sport ever since. Zak has competed in 3 Paralympic Games (London, Rio and Tokyo) as well as several other international tournaments.

Zak, thank you so much for speaking with us today! Wondering if you can talk about how this year’s IDPD theme speaks to you? In particular, the UN holds up sport at an example of a sector which creates equity, employment and innovation for persons with disabilities. How has sport impacted your life?

My life would obviously look very different if I was not involved in sport. After I had my fingers and legs amputated at the age of 10, sport played a key role in rehabilitating both physically and more importantly mentally. Another advantage of getting involved in Para sport are the relationships that you develop over the years. For many having a disability can feel isolating at times. I know for myself that growing up it was difficult being one of the only people in my school with a physical disability. Through the sport community I met countless other athletes with disabilities that share both similar life experience as well as a passion for sport. 

Have there been innovations in your own sport of wheelchair rugby that have improved inclusion or equity?

We have seen a lot of innovation in the sport of wheelchair rugby since its inception in Winnipeg back in 1977. Originally the sport was played in heavy and cumbersome everyday wheelchairs. Fast forward 40+ years and we now see high performance, durable and lightweight devices that are specifically designed for the sport. These are usually custom fitted to the athlete depending on their level of function, with increased support and stability for athletes with limited core muscles, and custom frames designed to accommodate athletes with limb deficiencies. This has helped people with a wider range of disabilities to get involved in our sport, while the chairs allow them to compete at the highest level possible.

Any advice for persons with disabilities who are considering getting involved in sport?

There is a sport out there for everyone. However, sometimes you may have to try a few different ones to find the right fit for you. The first step is just coming out and trying them! There is no need to be nervous, or any expectations for you to be the next superstar Paralympian. Just go and enjoy yourself, and hopefully find a passion for a new sport that will create some amazing opportunities, introduce you to some great communities and will change your life in the best ways imaginable.

You've competed in 3 Paralympic Games. Do you have plans to compete in Paris?

Yes! That is my current plan. Before Tokyo I was unsure if I would continue the life of a high-performance athlete. However, I still have a burning passion for wheelchair rugby and the desire to bring home another Paralympic medal for my country. Also, the fact that the Tokyo games were delayed one year meant that it was only a 3-year cycle before Paris, and that made it feel like a more manageable commitment. 


Thank you, Zak! We really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. If you’d like to hear more from Zak (and you do because he is an inspirational speaker), you can tune in on December 5th for a Paralympic panel discussion on International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Zak will be joined by fellow Paralympians and members of the Paralympic community.

Alternative Fuels: Benefits, Barriers and Building Infrastructure

In September this year, Electric Autonomy Canada, an independent news platform that reports on electric vehicles (EVs) and the future of transportation, hosted a webinar series called "Alternative Fuels: The promise, the potential and putting it into practice".

Alternative Fuels Webinar

Sponsored by Petro-Canada, a Suncor business, this three-part series brought together panels of experts in the energy field to talk about:

  • what kinds of alternative fuels are being developed in Canada, both for the everyday consumer as well as the trucking industry;
  • the infrastructure challenges of transitioning to alternative fuels; and
  • how Canada can get, and stay, competitive in the alternative fuels space.

The panel for the first webinar topic, "On the road, rails and in the sky with alternative fuels", included Dave Fath, General Manager, Petro-Canada Brand Marketing, Suncor. Dave shared his thoughts on which alternative fuels could prove most useful in industry and trucking in the next few years:

"For heavy industrial use, and for heavy transport specifically, I think there's a great potential for hydrogen-treated renewable diesel, it's a product that has a significantly lower carbon footprint than traditional diesel and it performs just like regular diesel. It's not yet widely available to consumers but we are starting to see it enter markets in Canada. We've recently launched it in British Columbia (Petro-Canada EcoDieselTM available to commercial customers) and over the next five years, I think it's fair to expect that HRD products will become more widely available across the country."

Consumer adoption of alternative fuels was a hot topic in the third webinar, "Looking into the future – where do we go from here?" and panelist Shannon Wing, Senior Director – Petro-Canada Strategy & Development, Suncor, had this to say about the energy industry’s role in educating customers about the benefits of alternative fuels:

"A lot of customers are gaining knowledge in this sector about alternative fuels but there's a lot of skepticism around some of the results. So, I think we really have a role to play in sharing real world case studies and information and experiences. As organizations that previously considered themselves competitors, we're going to have to band together on this transition and share that information more readily than we may have in the past, to have those customers really believe that the transition [to alternative fuels] can work."

Providing energy alternatives is a key element in helping Petro-Canada customers move toward a lower-carbon future. Visit https://electricautonomy.ca/alternative-fuels-canada-2022/ to check out these three webinars and learn more about the future of alternative fuels in Canada.

What questions do you have about alternative fuels? Let us know in the comments and we might feature your question in a future post.