The last Friday of October brings with it the beginning of a time-honoured and well adhered-to tradition in Canada, donning a Poppy in support of the Royal Canadian Legion and to pay our respects to the men and women of the Canadian Forces, both past and present.

Remembrance Day has always had a very special place in my heart. It has ever since I was old enough to really realise why it is so important to pause for the moment of silence and give thanks to those few who gave so much for me and my fellow Canadians to experience what we get to experience today. Ever since I was 12, I have either been with my Cadet Squadron paying tribute by participating in the local Remembrance Day Ceremony or with my Pipe Band performing at a service. Both ways, I’ve always made a point of sitting with a veteran to listen to their story or saying “thank-you” and once I joined the Canadian Forces myself as a Cadet Instructors’ Cadre Officer, I passed this on to the youth in my charge by making sure they thanked at least one serving or non-serving CF member or Veteran before they left the event.

This week, we will be sharing stories of members of the Canadian Forces community (incl. active members, past members, and their families) who have launched their own business venture(s). As I get more stories, I will add them here. Here are the first ones I learned about or know personally:

  • Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Chantal Fraser
    • Business: Empowered Path Inc.
    • Connection to the Military: Retired Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol)
    • Website: www.chantalfraser.ca and www.empoweredpath.ca
    • Story: One of the most incredible women I have ever met. She helped me out a lot when I was getting started both in the HR world and as a business owner. She’s never been anything but positive and realistic with me about both. Chantal is a retired Human Resources Officer who now focuses on providing assistance to military members, businesses and entrepreneurs on a number of topics, such as training facilitation, career transition, inclusion, work/life balance, and women’s impowerment. She is also an advocate for assisting under-represented groups in either starting their own business or choosing a new career path.
  • Kim Mills
    • Business: She is Fierce and author of The Way Home Series.
    • Connection to the Military: Military Spouse
    • Website: www.sheisfierce.net
    • Story: She is Fierce is a blog where she shares her experiences with being a Canadian military spouse and Mom of three. Her posts are poignant, thoughtful, gut-wrenching at times, and also funny at times. Kim is also the author of The Way Home Series, a series of romance books and novellas that circle around fictional Canadian military members. On top of all of this, she has done many speaking engagements to various community groups on military family life and the culture.
  • Colonel (Retired) Chris Hadfield
    • Business: Best-selling author, speaker, and Youtube sensation.
    • Connection to the Military: First Canadian commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and Retired RCAF fighter pilot.
    • Website: chrishadfield.ca
    • Story: Where to start? We all know his story as ISS Commander, have seen his videos, and that he is an incredible speaker (if you haven’t seen him speak yet, you need to). On top of all of this, he is also an author, including several books (including: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything and  You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station) and essays (We Should Treat Earth as Kindly as We Treat Spacecraft).
  • Tammy Dixon and Crystal MacKinnon
    • Business: Athena Freight Services Inc.
    • Connection to the Military: Both Tammy and Crystal were Traffic Technicians.
    • Website: www.athenafreightservices.ca
    • Story: Tammy and Crystal are both former Traffic Technicians with the Canadian Forces who have taken all of their trade training and experience and turned it into Athena Freight Services Inc. Tammy and Crystal both have experience working in freight shipping and receiving and coordinating the movement of lots of people and equipment under every situation possible (weather, timings, etc.) all while demonstrating true leadership skills and military excellence/precision. I have interacted with Tammy and Crystal at at least two different entrepreneurship events (one workshop and one networking event) and was instantly impressed with them. If I ever need to move something or recommend to a friend/family member, I’ll be recommending them!
  • TBC! Please send in your stories and they could be featured here!

Resources Available for Military Entrepreneurs

  • Prince’s Operation Entrepreneurs
    • Website: www.princesoperationentrepreneur.ca
    • From their website:  “A program of Prince’s Charities Canada (PCC), Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE) delivers education, training, tools and resources to budding entrepreneurs through our education partners, program alumni and established entrepreneurs in communities across Canada. Entrepreneurship provides an attractive option for many leaving the military to build on the skills they developed in service and focus on a new mission: their own business success.”
  • HERCS (Helping Entrepreneurs Reach Complete Success)
    • Website: https://trentonmfrc.ca/employment
    • From their website:  Let HERCS be your gateway to entrepreneurship!Open to all members of the Military Community, this program seeks to empower its participants to create businesses of all types, especially “portable” businesses which can be easily relocated due to postings. Why start over if you have a business that can move when you do? Whether it is direct sales, a franchise, your own business idea, or even if you just want to learn what being an entrepreneur is all about, this program is for you!
  • All of the resources available to all entrepreneurs as detailed in What’s Available to (Young) Entrepreneurs in the Bay of Quinte Region

This Remembrance Day will definitely have a different meaning for me this year, as I likely won’t be marching with my Squadron up Church and Station Streets to the Belleville Cenotaph or playing with my Pipe Band as we march in the Veterans and marching units. This year, I have been temporarily posted to CFB Borden to work for the Cadet program full-time for the next little bit. Being on an active CFB during this period is especially poignant, as the people you interact with and see on a daily basis are sometimes people that have made the decision to write cheque payable to Canada for an amount “up to and including their life”. It truly is something to experience and it often doesn’t hit you until much later that you just had the opportunity to speak with a true Canadian hero.

To the CF members (past and present) and families who are reading this (because the families serve every bit as much as the member themselves does), from the very bottom of my heart, THANK-YOU!