Canada Connects In Washington, D.C. – The Strathcona Experience
By Captain Sandy Cooper
From 23 – 26 May 2011, a small delegation of six Strathcona soldiers deployed to the American capital as part of the Canada Connects Trade Mission, spearheaded by the Alberta Enterprise Group. This mission was comprised of over 60 Canadian business leaders from virtually every sector of the economy, thankfully including strong representation and sponsorship from the Big Rock Brewery! Though AEG was understandably business focused, the mission provided an excellent opportunity for Strathcona soldiers to showcase the Canadian contribution to the Afghanistan mission to key decision makers in Washington. To say that numerous American Senators, Congressmen, and business leaders were surprised by both the scale of the integration between Canadian and US Forces and our collective combat experience would be a gross understatement!
Despite the fact that we spent most of our time on Capitol Hill, there were a few brief respites where we were able to join with the throngs of tourists for some site seeing. The whole military delegation had the opportunity to wander “the Mall” and take in the numerous memorials and monuments. In addition, there was a very pleasant reception at the Canadian Embassy where the AEG presented a cheque for $2000 USD to the Aleethia Foundation, a US-based veterans care group. The visit was capped off with a formal dinner at The Metropolitan Club, founded after the US Civil War by General William Tecumseh Sherman and other leaders from both sides in that conflict.
Overall, the mission was a great success, and a heartfelt thanks goes out to Mr. Cal Nichols, Chairman AEG, and Mr. Tim Shipton, President AEG, along with the other outstanding corporate sponsors.