Via the RCAF web site, original report written by Lt. Christopher Daniel – and one more reason to be proud of the men and women who serve our country. The aircrews of 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 8 Wing Trenton were honoured and privileged to be helping Santa this holiday season.
On the weekend before Christmas, 424 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton pilots Major Daniel Bouchard, Captains Gillian Parker and Greg Dujean as well as loadmaster Master Corporal Colm Canavan, flight engineer Warrant Officer Mark Kovacic and air combat systems operators Maj Bill Snyder and Capt Jim Wilson transported several pallets of new toys and goods valued at more than $80,000 to Iqaluit and Yellowknife. The gifts were to be distributed by “Santa” from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
These gifts to underprivileged children in the North were made possible through the generous contributions of volunteers and supporters from Toronto through the Toys for the North project, which is an initiative of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade committee.
“It was a great honour for the RCMP to represent Toronto’s generosity by distributing the toys to the far reaching communities which we proudly serve and protect,” said Sergeant Greg Sutherland, a Mountie serving in Nunavut.
“We would like to thank the Royal Canadian Air Force for helping us bring the toys and goods up North,” said Sergeant Wes Heron, RCMP Northwest Territories. “Their assistance was vital in getting all these gifts to Iqaluit and Yellowknife.”
Major Bouchard said the RCAF received the request from the RCMP and the crew was “happy to assist during our routine flights to the North. We were privileged to support this initiative that aims to bring smiles to children living north of 60.”
For Capt Parker, being a “reindeer” for Santa this holiday season was a wonderful experience. “It was heartwarming to know that we helped make this Christmas a memorable one for children up here,” he said. “I was glad to be part of it.”
MCpl Canavan said he was honoured to part of 8 Wing’s “reindeer” team. “Not everyone gets a chance to be closely working with Santa,” said MCpl Canavan with a smile. “Loading Santa’s supply is a fantastic story that I was excited to share with my family and friends this Christmas.”
The Toronto Santa Claus Parade committee has been organizing the Toys for the North initiative for the last two years. With the support of the RCAF, this initiative was a collaborative effort between many community members, elders, volunteers, charitable organizations, the RCMP, other police services, and government representatives, with the intent of bringing smiles to underprivileged children.
“We have a special connection with Santa because our Canadian Forces Station Alert in the Arctic is located about 800 kilometres from Santa’s home,” said MCpl Canavan.