The organizer: Marc Burchell
The pitch: Co-founding the Canadian Walk For Veterans
Like a lot of Canadians, Marc Burchell rarely thought much about veterans beyond Remembrance Day.
But when the son of one of Mr. Burchell’s friends was seriously injured during a training accident at a military base, he became outraged at the paltry compensation the soldier received from the government. “They were allowing him something like $22,000 with no pension,” Mr. Burchell recalled from his home in White Rock, B.C.
Mr. Burchell, 68, got involved in a campaign to improve veterans’ benefits and he helped organize a fundraising event in 2017 called the Walk For Veterans. He and the other organizers were hoping for 75 people to participate, but nearly 200 joined the walk. “It struck me at that time that this really resonated with the Canadian public,” Mr. Burchell said.
He decided to expand the walk and turn it into an event that raised awareness of issues affecting veterans, in particular younger ex-servicemen and women. So the following year he helped launch the Canadian Walk For Veterans to honour former soldiers and raise money for charities that support them. “It’s about saying thank you to the new generation of veterans and thanking them while they’re still among us, rather than waiting until they’re among the fallen,” he said.
This year’s walk was held in 11 cities over the weekend of Sept. 24 and around 800 people participated. Donations from the walk go to different charities each year and this year the money went to a fund at the True Patriot Love Foundation that supports the resettlement of Afghan interpreters and advisers who assisted Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Burchell, who used to own a chain of 52 women’s fashion stores called Suzanne’s, hopes to expand the walk to more cities across the country. “This is a small thing for me to do,” he said. “To me, the big thing is the sacrifices that our troops make, and they don’t get a lot of thank yous.”