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3 entries from June 2021

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)


Honouring Our Partnerships with Indigenous Communities

June is National Indigenous History Month – a time to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. This year, following the tragic news about the children found buried at former residential schools - and that there are likely more discoveries to come - we hold our First Nations colleagues in our hearts. We stand with survivors, Indigenous communities and Indigenous team members to honour the lives of the children who never came home.

Here at PumpTalk, we want to take the opportunity to recognize the significant contribution that Indigenous communities make to our Petro-Canada network. We have 58 Petro-Canada retail and wholesale marketing relationships (42 retail and 16 wholesale) with Indigenous communities across the country.

This year I was happy that operators from two of the sites operated by First Nations communities were able to take the time to talk with me about their sites and how they celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. Introducing Carol Pechawis, the manager of Misty Petroleum located on the Mistawasis First Nation in northern Saskatchewan and Loretta Jacko from the Petro-Canada located on the Cold Lake First Nations in northern Alberta.

Carol and Loretta
Carol Pechawis, Misty Petroleum and Loretta Jacko, Cold Lake First Nations Petro-Canada

PumpTalk: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, Carol and Loretta. Can you tell me a bit about your sites?

Carol: Misty Petroleum open five years ago last April, but joined the Petro-Canada Dealer Licensee network in August 2019. Our clientele is 50% local community and 50% pass-through travellers along the highway; the local community is from two First Nations communities: Muskeg Lake First Nation and Mistawasis First Nation (Mistawasis Nêhiyawak). We offer full service fuel, gasoline and diesel, a small café (including “Misty’s Chicken and Chips”), and craft store. Our craft store sells a variety of arts and crafts from local artisans from the community, traditionally made items such as moccasins, hand-beaded jewelry, artwork and handmade knives.

Misty Petroleum Petro-Canada
Misty Petroleum Petro-Canada

Loretta: The Cold Lake First Nations Petro-Canada, part of the Primco Dene Commercial Centre, opened in 2019. We have about 30 employees, the majority from the Cold Lake First Nations. We also have a number of students where this is their first job. We're right off the highway so we see both local traffic as well as a lot of folks travelling from Edmonton or Saskatchewan. Our CFC restaurant sees a lot of local traffic particularly on Wednesdays when we have homemade bannock and Indian tacos. In addition to the restaurant, we have an area to service transportation vehicles, places for RVs to park plus a nice grassy area to walk your dog.

Cold Lake First Nations Petro-Canada
Cold Lake First Nations Petro-Canada

PumpTalk: What role does your site play within your community?

Carol: We're the only business in the area that operates after 6pm - so between 6pm and 10pm, we're the only place people can go. That's important for both the local community as well as local businesses that many need something later in the evening. We also serve as a gathering place. Pre-COVID, a lot of folks would wait out winter storms in our cafe - sometimes spending hours here. Because we see so many regular local customers, we're also able to look after community members. Recently, an older guest purchased a 5-gallon bottle of water for his cooler; when one of my staff carried it out to his car, they noticed the previous bottle was still there. Knowing that he was older and his wife was ill, they arranged to deliver the water and install it for him.

Loretta: Our site is a centre of community information sharing. We have a bulletin board where people post announcements. And we also have a lot of people just coming in and talking to our team. There’s always a lot of chatter and everyone just learns what’s going on in the community.

PumpTalk: June is Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. How does your community celebrate?

Carol: We don’t necessarily celebrate Indigenous awareness month – we are indigenous every day and so we find ways to appreciate each other every day. The arts and crafts in our store are a way in which we appreciate the craftsmanship of people in our community - it's a great way for local artists to reach a larger number of people. The artists make many traditionally made things, like moccasins. Not everyone can make a moccasin, so lots of people purchase these, not just the people passing through.

Traditional handicrafts for sale at Misty Petroleum
Traditional handicrafts for sale at Misty Petroleum

Loretta: Indigenous History Month is a good time for us to raise awareness about our culture and history. At the site, we have theme days or our team will wear t-shirts that bring attention to days like the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) on May 5th. We are very open to guests who come and want to learn about our culture – people who appreciate not appropriate.

Interior of Cold Lake First Nations Petro-Canada and homemade Indian tacos
Interior of Cold Lake First Nations Petro-Canada and homemade Indian tacos

Carol and Loretta, thank you so much for taking the time to share information about your site and your community with our readers!

~|~

On a personal note, I’m making it a point during June to learn more about Canada’s Indigenous cultures. I asked both Loretta and Carol for recommendations on sources they value and respect as well as checked in with Suncor’s internal Employee Resource Group for Indigenous employees. The following list has many excellent resources for appreciating Indigenous culture as well as learning about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the important process of reconciliation.

  • NotoriousCree, aka James Jones - a creator on social media who showcases First Nations language and culture
  • #IndigenousReads – a reading program and book list that encourages reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through sharing literature written by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
  • Indigenous Canada – an online course (free) from the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. 
  • Native-Land.ca – an Indigenous-led team that is creating a map of Indigenous lands, along with other resources, in a way that changes, challenges, and improves the way people see the history of their countries and peoples. They hope to strengthen the spiritual bonds that people have with the land, its people, and its meaning.
  • Reconciliation Canada – an organization actively providing programs and initiatives to inspire positive change in communities throughout Canada. 
  • GroundworkForChange.org - a website that shares information and resources to help non-Indigenous/settler peoples grow relationships with Indigenous peoples that are rooted in solidarity and justice.
  • Research Guide to Indigenous New Media at the University of British Columbia – a curated collection of Indigenous-created new media, including video games, apps, podcasts, comics, video art, and web art. 

How do you plan to honour and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

~Kate T.


Recognizing Dads as Family Caregivers

Father’s Day is coming up on Sunday, June 20th. I was thinking about my dad recently. Several years (decades!) ago, when I was six, I had my tonsils taken out. My dad was at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with me. He didn’t really know how to be any kind of caregiver. When he grudgingly visited me in the hospital, I knew he was pretty uncomfortable. Trying to do something to make us both feel better, he pulled out a deck of cards and taught me to play gin rummy. As I grew older, it was one of the few pastimes that we continued to share.

Dads will do anything for their kids. Whether that’s just trying to keep their child’s mind off her scratchy throat or finding long-term solutions to ensuring their disabled child’s care, Dads find a way. That’s why I was honoured to sit down with Ed Mcmartin. Ed’s an Integration Lead, currently working on the Coke Boiler Replacement Project at Suncor – a project that sees the replacement of three aging petroleum coke-fired boilers with two highly efficient natural gas cogeneration units that will generate approximately 800 megawatts (MW) of reliable, low cost, low-carbon power to the Alberta Interconnected Electrical System.

Ed is also a family caregiver, along with his wife, for his son, Jared. I talked to Ed about his journey as a caregiver.

Ed and Family

PumpTalk: Thank you for sharing your story with our readers, Ed.

Ed: I don’t normally like to talk about our situation, but I hope that relaying our story will be a small contribution towards helping the younger generation who might just be starting on their caregiving journey.

PT: Can you tell me a bit about Jared?

Ed: My son, Jared, who is now 19, has a metabolic disorder, and part of his brain stopped developing at age 2. By age 6 he had lost all his speech, all his skills and reverted to a toddler. He also became extremely agitated. He hardly sat down and hardly slept. He required a highly restricted diet, and still does. He also developed epilepsy, which is only partially controlled by medications.

Jared needs help 24/7/365 for all his daily needs. Feeding, clothing, toileting. When the workday ends, our second job kicks in and goes until possibly midnight. Sometimes it was all night. Everyday. There are times he will have minimal sleep for up to 2 weeks. Therefore, mom and dad do not get any sleep either, yet we must get up the next day. Also, Jared is medically fragile. On at least 3 occasions Calgary’s children’s hospital has saved his life.

PT: Now that Jared is older, how has your role as caregiver changed?

Ed: We recently lobbied for and successfully brought a new group home provider into Calgary to help care for Jared. The group home provider originates from Edmonton and was willing to expand to Calgary. Jared moved into the new group home earlier this spring where he and a roommate are cared for by a professional organization. We have since advocated on behalf of others, and this organization will be opening their second and third homes this September to care for similar adults.

The group home has 5 hours of day programming for him, Monday through Fridays, which focuses on skill building. My wife and I see him several times a week, plus we are able to bring him home on Sundays to spend time. We like the group home provider because they are very flexible in terms of his care. This will be important as my wife and I get older. Continued strong advocacy is necessary because disabled people are some of the most discriminated-against folks on Earth. They have no voice at all, other than their parents, immediate family, friends, and advocates. Each of them deserves a purpose driven, meaningful life just like anybody else. This group home provider can give him that, something to do, while being in the community while caring for him.

PT: How did caregiving impact you and your wife?

Ed: There were physical challenges – repetitive strain injuries from managing Jared. Particularly as Jared grew bigger, it became harder for my wife to handle him. Plus, there can be emotional or stress-related challenges. There were times he hardly slept for weeks; this takes a physical toll on the caregivers. We have not had a vacation in 20 years. When others go to the lake or to their second home, we care for Jared.

And being a family caregiver impacts your career. When you have a disabled child, there is an increased likelihood of getting separated or divorced – we saw it with a lot of the families we met. We worked hard to stay together as a caregiver team with a balanced approach – and with that commitment came career sacrifice. In our case, we moved cities, gave up jobs and uprooted the family to be closer to essential services. Some folks think that if you’re a family caregiver, you don’t have aspirations. But that’s not true – we do have them, we are just less likely to be able to do anything about them since so much energy goes into keeping the family stable. So, to maintain family stability, it was important to keep him happy and healthy, get exercise for ourselves, be able to work, have alone time, spend time with our daughter, etc.

PT: What can workplaces do to support family caregivers?

Ed: At an organization, it’s important to build trust between caregivers and company leadership. Leaders should have meaningful conversations with their workers, especially identified caregivers; it would be great if a person’s role in a company could change based on life circumstances - like becoming a caregiver. Suncor is on a journey towards recognizing how employees with unique circumstances can be supported in the workplace.

PT: The Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation was created with the goal of raising awareness and understanding of family caregivers across Canada. What would you like Canadians to know about family caregivers?

Ed: Everyone should develop an appreciation for what a caregiver does. And know that little things you can do to help a caregiver make a difference. It’s important to remember that they are resilient, passionate people. The role of caregiver fell on their laps for a reason. Please respect them for that.

~

Many thanks, Ed, for sharing your family caregiver journey!

The Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation is committed to creating awareness and understanding of the issue of family caregiving in Canada and inspire Canadians to help.

Petro-Canada CareMakers Car Wash Promotion

From June 15 – June 28, Petro-Canada is giving guests $5 off each premium car wash. Plus they’re donating $2 from each wash to the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation.