Canadian Forces Group Proud to Have Marched in the 2007 Calgary Stampede
The Canadian Veteran Adventure Foundation (CVAF) was formed in 2007 by ex-Canadian Forces (CF) member, Christian McEachern and I to provide recreation therapy-styled programming for CF Veterans returning from active duty. No program like it was in place at that time.
Armed with only good intentions and recent University degrees, we had more passion than funds. The recession was a whisper on the mouths of our American cousins.
We knew time was of the essence in getting the word out about our organization.
The idea came to put together a group of recently returned Veterans and their families, find a wagon and teamster and take part in the 2007 Stampede Parade. It was a free entry and the Parade committee worked quickly to process our entry. Into the discussion marched the Canadian Horse Association Rocky Mountain District (CHARMD) who after approaching them for a team of matched Canadian horses, stepped up and offered a team and driver, and sourced a wagon from none other than Alberta’s master of all things western John Scott.
I dubbed it ‘Canadian Horses for Canadian Forces’. We were flying high the day of the Parade, proud to be marching along with our CF brothers and sisters from the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre. The children of the Vets who joined up danced, waved and beamed as their fathers were cheered at every street corner, every audience-filled bleacher. Though our team of young Canadian horses struggled with the pavement and slippery horseshoes and the start and stop pace, they pranced animatedly when they heard the crowd clap and cheer.
Bruce McDonnell, a member of the Calgary Highlanders recently returned home from Afghanistan and marched and waved as his wife and two small children rode in the wagon. He said he wasn’t sure what kind of welcome to expect when he got home from combat but having this kind of support for his efforts made facing the horrors of war to act as keepers of the peace worthwhile.
The 2007 Calgary Stampede Parade was one of the proudest moments of my life, to be supported by an organization who supports the men and women who risk their lives for Canada, our true north strong and free.
Photo: Left, Christian McEachern, Marvin Abbott (driver) and various members of the CMFRC. Banner right, Monica Culic.