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3 entries from November 2021

Creating Space for Truth and Reconciliation through Art - Meet Jessey Pacho

In September, for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we introduced you to Keegan Starlight who created the first of six murals that Petro-Canada has commissioned across Canada by Indigenous artists. We’re delighted that the second mural in the series, titled ‘Our Children’ has been completed - located at our 117 Jarvis Street in Toronto. The mural was created by Jessey Pacho, aka Phade – a Black artist in Toronto, and his co-artist Indigenous artist (who has chosen to remain anonymous out of respect for their family). Jessey shared with us his and his co-artist’s approach to art and their vision for “Our Children”.

Jessey Pacho (aka Phade)
Jessey Pacho (aka Phade)

PumpTalk: Why is art an important form of storytelling?

Jessey Pacho: Art helps keep stories alive. Stories that have, in large part, been ignored or kept hidden from Canadian society. I partnered with an Indigenous artist on this project and it's important that we're able to have this mural exist in such a public and prominent place because it shows the world that these peoples, who have practically been erased from this country, are still here and are still a strong and valuable presence. It drives the conversation forward. Art is a very powerful tool in terms of storytelling.

PT: Jessey, what inspires your art?

JP: I started in an art form that is very niche and has many negative connotations associated with it. Now, being able to do my art in public spaces, and being more accepted by society at large in a medium that is still somewhat considered illegal, really inspires me.

Also, we as Black and Indigenous people are using our art to speak on issues that are important to us. So the opportunity to create in public space is what inspires the drive to create. In terms of the art itself, I enjoy playing with color and creating images that people, when they walk by, would just be mind-boggled and wonder “How did the artist create that?!”

PT: What is the story you're portraying in the mural?

JP: On this project I partnered with an indigenous artist who is also a second-generation residential school survivor – they have family that was directly impacted by the residential school system. This mural talks specifically about the moment that we're experiencing as a country in relation to residential schools and the discoveries of Indigenous children that attended these institutions.

In terms of imagery, there's a sunrise above a landmass – nowhere specifically but a representation of one of the many unceded territories in Canada. We chose this imagery so that when people walk by they see something that's bright and colourful, but then realize there's a deeper layer of conversation.

Some of the characters in the mural and the dress they're wearing are based on Haudenosaunee culture. Also, one of the characters is an Afro-Indigenous person; Afro-Indigenous people have existed all over the world for a very long time but they are largely ignored and not part of the conversation. By putting an Afro-Indigenous person on this wall, we pay homage to their existence in this country as well.

The lettering at the centre of our mural reads "Our Children" and is written in Cayuga. There's only 60 fluent speakers of the Cayuga language left in the world and that is a direct correlation to the residential schools existing. It's important to us to feature authentic aspects of Indigenous culture on this wall because it's not something that we're seeing a lot of in the public realm. These are important aspects of the history of this country that need to be brought to the forefront.

'Our Children' by Jessey Pacho (aka Phade) and an unnamed Indigenous co-producer
“Our Children" by Jessey Pacho (aka Phade) and an unnamed Indigenous co-producer

PT: What does reconciliation mean to you?

JP: Reconciliation is about taking action to do better for our Indigenous population. Every Canadian who benefits from this land has a responsibility to our Indigenous population. They are the original people of this country that we call home. As a nation it's important to acknowledge the experiences of Indigenous Peoples and ensure that we're doing the most we can to reduce the harm that Indigenous Peoples are experiencing due to our Canadian way of life. To create spaces in which Indigenous folks can feel welcome and safe.

PT: As an organization, Suncor (the proud parent company of Petro-Canada) is on a journey of reconciliation. How can art contribute to healing and reconciliation? And what else can businesses like Petro-Canada do to support healing and reconciliation across Canada?

JP: Art keeps these stories alive and keeps the experiences of the people affected by these atrocities at the forefront of conversation. It also creates opportunities. Petro-Canada is creating an opportunity for a Black artist and an Indigenous artist to share their stories in a prominent public space.

Partnering with Petro-Canada in this way shows others within the industry that there's an appropriate way of working with Indigenous communities. Businesses like Petro-Canada can take further actions that support healing and reconciliation by knowing where their investments go and ensure they aren't being funneled into projects that negatively affect Indigenous folks living on unceded territories.

You can hear more from Jessey in the following video.


A big thank you to Jessey and his Indigenous co-artist for creating this mural and sharing their vision for reconciliation; for more art, you can check out Jessey’s Instagram!

Over the next few months we’ll be introducing our other mural artists and revealing their creations. Stay tuned to our Instagram for sneak peeks of their work.

~Kate T.

Honouring Remembrance Day with Yvette Yong - FACE Athlete, Olympian and Naval Reservist

Each Remembrance Day, we share stories on PumpTalk from the Petro-Canada family that honour those who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces and highlight the positive impact that their service has had. This year, I was delighted to speak with Sailor 2nd Class Yvette Yong. Yvette joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 2010 as a reservist. She currently holds the role of Naval Communicator at HMCS York in Toronto.

Yvette is also a world-class taekwondo athlete. She’s won numerous medals at international competitions including the Military World Games, the Military World Championships, the Commonwealth Championships, the World Championships, and the Pan American Championships; she is currently ranked #1 in the world in her weight class. Earlier this year, Yvette competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Finally, Yvette is a Petro-Canada Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE ™) grant recipient (2007).

Yvette competing in Taekwondo in the CISM Military World Games
Yvette competing in Taekwondo in the CISM Military World Games

PumpTalk: Thank you for sharing your experiences with our readers! To start, can you tell me a bit about your military background?

Yvette: My military career actually started through my taekwondo career. I’ve been competing in taekwondo since I was 9 years old – so over twenty years. The military has a national taekwondo team. At a match in 2010, someone from the military saw me compete and spoke to my mom about opportunities, including sport, through the military. We learned that joining the military isn’t really about going to war. It's about giving back to Canada, not about being on the front lines.

I thought the Navy would be a good match - largely because I grew up and went to university in Vancouver. And I really wanted to give back to a country that welcomed my parents as immigrants.

Sailor 2nd Class, Yvette Yong
Sailor 2nd Class, Yvette Yong

Once I joined, I took an aptitude test to see what I’d be good at. That turned out to be naval communications.

Naval communications manages the external voice – getting the tactical information and support to our different operations. You get to see everything that happening, all information coming in and out.

PT: What has been one of the best or most surprising moments about your military career?

Yvette: The best moment is actually a combination of sports and military. In 2018, the International Military Sports Council (CISM) named me the International Military Female Athlete of the Year. It was the first time that a Canadian military member had been chosen as a CISM athlete of the year. I was really honoured and proud to be chosen; this award recognizes fair play, personal empathy and discipline. It really brought my two worlds of sport and military together.

CISM’s motto is “Friendship through Sport” and when you compete at CISM events, you really can forget everything that is going on in the world. Friendship through sport is what I truly believe in. I feel like I can be a role model through being a member of the forces as well as being an athlete.

Yvette receiving a medal at the CISM Military World Games
Yvette receiving a medal at the CISM Military World Games

PT: How has being in the military influenced your competition style or routine?

Yvette: My job in the navy, being in the communications control room, requires me to be alert at all times. I have to be able to make decisions on the spot and with urgency. I need to be able to communicate clearly under pressure. This is similar to a taekwondo match – to think on your feet and react right away. The military really taught me those skills.

PT: Do you have a particular routine on Remembrance Day?

Yvette: On Remembrance Day we have a formal parade – usually at City Hall – and we have a moment of silence to honour the soldiers who fought for our country, for the soldiers who are serving now, and for all the people who provide our freedom, our safety and our peace of mind.

PT: What do you think is important for Canadians to know about serving in the military or about the Canadian Armed Forces?

Yvette: Being in the military isn’t necessarily about going to war. We are trained to do so many things – to be ready and provide humanitarian support wherever we’re needed. Firefighting. Flood control. Refuge support. A couple of years ago, I was on a search and rescue mission off the coast of Vancouver Island near where a lot of forest fires were happening. We cruised up and down the coast, listening to calls and being ready to evacuate or help in any way we could. Being in the Canadian Armed Forces is about so much more than being on the front line. You have an opportunity to learn and to use your skills to serve your country in so many different ways.


Thank you so much, Yvette, for sharing your story about your military and taekwondo careers to date. We look forward to hearing about your continued success.

If you’d like to follow Yvette’s competitions, you can check out her Instagram and her Facebook page.

~ Kate T.

Making the EV Switch – Interviews with Paul Raszewski and David Bennett

I’m a big fan of online reviews, especially when I’m shopping for a new piece of technology. For everything from my oscillating fan to my cookware to my TV, I’ve researched and combed my way through a myriad of posts on various sites. Folks who leave reviews are often quite specific and generous with their information, which I appreciate very much.

But, sometimes, you just need to talk it out with someone who’s been through the research and purchasing process before – especially when it’s a purchase that’s as central to your life as a vehicle. And if you’re considering switching from a gas-powered vehicle to an electric one, it’s even more helpful to talk to someone who’s done it.

Recently I spoke with Paul Raszewski and David Bennett. Paul is a realtor and the co-founder of TEVA – the Toronto Electric Vehicle Association, an organization dedicated to electric transportation advocacy, education and adoption. David is a Suncor employee in Fort McMurray and an EV enthusiast. I asked them both about their history with EVs, surprises along the way and advice for folks considering the switch.

PT: Tell me a bit about your history with EVs.

Paul: I’m passionate about new technologies and was curious about electric cars – this was back in 2011. You had the choice of 3 options in Canada then: the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. I chose the i-MiEV because it was the cheapest at the time. Since then, we’ve had 6 different EVs; there are currently 3 in the family. We’ve had pure electric models, plug in hybrid models and hybrids with range extenders. When I first got the i-MiEV, I would only drive it around town, not take it on long trips. But the technology has come really far! My current car, the Audi e-tron can go over 400KM on a charge.

Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger
Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger

David: We were on a family vacation and my son said he wanted to go for a ride in a Tesla. Side note – you can’t do a same-day test drive in a Tesla; you have to book a co-pilot. But we got the co-pilot booked and finally did the drive. Driving it really threw off my preconceptions about EVs. There’s so much technology on board. And the acceleration is serious! When you hit the accelerator, it’s like you’re already there. After we took the test drive, we were hooked. We got a Tesla in 2018 and I’ve been using it as my daily driver for 3 ½ years. We also have a gas-powered vehicle, but we mainly use the Tesla.

David’s Tesla at a Tesla charging station
David’s Tesla at a Tesla charging station

PT: Anything that surprised you? Either when purchasing the vehicle or the day-to-day driving?

Paul: I’ve been surprised by the lack of knowledge with dealers who are selling EVs. Back when I first bought one, you certainly had to do your own homework. These days, it’s a little better, but still not perfect. For example, sales folks often aren’t aware of how to find a charging station. They will say to just use the car’s GPS. But apps are much better – not only showing you where chargers are located, but how to pay for them. This is one of the reasons we created TEVA – to help educate dealers and drivers about all things EV.

David: A couple of things. First, the process for buying the Tesla. I used to work at a major car dealership and there was a clearly defined process for purchasing a car. With the Tesla it was much different. I just went online, chose my options and clicked “buy”. After the bank called to confirm financing, they delivered the Tesla to our door in Fort Mac. It was pretty cool; the “frunk” (that’s what they call the front trunk) had balloons, short bread cookies and a personal note from Elon Musk.

The other thing that surprised me was how I changed my overall driving and travel style. I don’t do any more passing on the highway – just set my cruise and drive at a constant speed. It’s much more relaxed. Same with travel style. There’s more planning for longer trips, making sure I know where the charging stations are. And when we travel as a family, it’s a very different feeling. When we stop to charge, we get out and locate new spots in the town where we’re charging. We go for lunch together and walk around. It takes longer, but it’s more fun.

PT: Have you tried Petro-Canada’s fast chargers? Any comments?

Paul: Yes, I use them quite extensively, both in Toronto as well as on a road trip cross-country. I also use the Petro-Canada EV App. On the road trip, some of the chargers were broken, so it would be good to remind station owners to report when their charger is offline or unavailable. But when we were able to use them, we did get a 150kW charge. Reporting a problem with a charger is also fairly complicated. Something that the Electrify App has is a one button “Report a Problem” feature. Would like to see this added to the PC app.

Inside Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger
Inside Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger

David: Actually, not yet. These days we’re not travelling as much so our home charger has been enough – the closest PC fast charger is down in Calgary, 8 hours away! We’re looking forward to driving out to Halifax – the PC network will make that possible. I would really like to see more fast chargers from Fort Mac to Edmonton. There’s only the one slow charger in Athabasca. Would be great to be able to take the electric highway to the oil sands. Put more chargers up here. The Tesla Owners Club of Alberta holds large rallies wherever there are chargers; it would be great to see 100 owners driving up Highway 63 to Fort Mac, coming north for picture opportunities!

Inside David’s Tesla while driving on a family road trip
Inside David’s Tesla while driving on a family road trip

PT: Finally, any tips for drivers who are considering making the switch to an EV?

Paul: First, don’t be scared off by the cost. Even though the up-front cost is more expensive, the long-term cost is much better. Gasoline vs. electricity – you’ll save. No oil change, not as frequent brake service – the long term servicing costs are better. And second, look for an EV community who can give you support – they’re out there.

Paul and his son, Paul Jr. – co-founders of TEVA
Paul and his son, Paul Jr. – co-founders of TEVA

David: Unless you’ve got your financing in order and are ready to buy, don’t test drive! It’s such a great experience; you won’t be able to get it out of your head. And it will ruin you for other vehicles. When I went back to my gas-powered car after the test drive, it felt so simplistic, like going back 20 years. It really hooks you.

David and his family at the Tesla factory in California
David and his family at the Tesla factory in California


Paul and David – thank you so much for taking the time to share your EV experiences with our readers! And I’ve passed along your comments about the Petro-Canada fast charge network and app to the EV team. Readers, are any of you thinking of making a switch to an EV in the near future? Let us know about your process and questions in the comments!

~ Kate T.