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LILLEY: Helmets to Hardhats helps veterans find jobs in the trades

H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs

An organization started almost a decade ago to help veterans transition to civilian life is now extending help to those who stood shoulder to shoulder with Canada in Afghanistan.

Helmets to Hardhats helps place veterans who are leaving military service into training programs for the construction trades and will now help the interpreters, drivers, fixers, and others who worked alongside Canadian soldiers.

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"Tommy" memorial restored

H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs
From L to R: MP Marilyn Gladu MP, Sarnia—Lambton, Ontario, John Swart President of the Sarnia Building Trades, Joe Maloney, Nat’l Director #HelmetstoHardhats, MPP Bob Bailey of Sarnia

The Sarnia-Lambton Building Construction and Trades Council. led by President John Swart , led a campaign to restore the Statue after vandalism in April. The bronze statue, known as « Tommy » was dedicated in 1922 and stands as a tribute in Sarnia’s Veterans Park to those soldiers who sacrificed during the First World War.

"I was pleased to be a part of Saturday’s 100th anniversary ceremony at the Sarnia Cenotaph,"" said MPP Bob Bailey via Twitter, "Local tradespeople, companies and organizations donated over $100,000 in materials and labour to upgrade the cenotaph and restore the 100-year-old “Tommy” statue after it was damaged."

H2H observes first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs

Remembering and honouring residential school survivors and their families.

H2H Labour Day Support despite parade cancellation

H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs

Due to covid restrictions the Sarnia, ON, the official Labour Day parade was cancelled but the building trades wanted to keep the 120 year tradition of labour going so they decided to gather at the workers monument looking over Chemical Valley. The workers monument is on the left.

Joe Maloney, H2H is holding the Support Our Troops flag on the right and next to him (R) is Ron Simon, Veteran, who joined the Boilermakers through H2H. The others are members from the Insulators and Boilermakers unions.

Joe Maloney would like to thank John Swart president of the Sarnia building trades council for keeping this 120 year record going. Very proud day.

Success in life after service: Drew Semper

H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs

Moving from military avionics to electrical services in the private sector meant starting over again. Drew completed the intense, 12-week pre-apprenticeship training in November 2020, working toward his Red Seal, the provincially recognized designation as a qualified electrician. He is now a first-year apprentice working for Brymar Electric, which does wiring for commercial and residential construction projects in the Edmonton area.

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H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs

H2H meets with Minister of Veterans Affairs

From the Minister of Veterans Affairs Twitter ( @L_MacAulay): After more than 36 years in uniform, David Giannou is now working to help Veterans start careers in the skilled trades at @H2HCanada. Great to chat with him, and glad we’re supporting the work he’s doing through the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund.

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Vandalism of Cenotaph soldier an insult to community

CARPENTERS’ LOCAL 27 — A crew of volunteers have been spending their Saturdays working on renovations to the MacKenzie Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Woodbridge, Ont.
The bronze soldier, known as “Tommy,” has adorned Sarnia’s Cenotaph since 1922. Sarnia Police photo

It was a stinging slap in the face to the memories of all who have answered Canada’s call to arms.

What’s more, it desecrated the sacrifice of Sarnia’s fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen whose names, in the hundreds, are recorded on the Cenotaph in Veterans Park.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley spoke of “sadness and outrage” after vandals pried the rifle off the First World War statue, known as “Tommy,” on April 6. The bronze soldier has stood sentinel over what Bradley called “this Hallowed ground” since 1922.

Royal Canadian Legion Vice President Les Jones, a former police officer and veteran of the First Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, said it was “incomprehensible” someone could commit such a thoughtless crime against “an empty tomb honouring our brave men and women.”

When John Swart learned the metal gun had been stolen, however, he knew his members would spring into action. Swart, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Building Construction and Trades Council, said his members were appalled at the disrespect shown Canada’s war vets.

His 7,000-member Council is part of a national campaign known as ‘Helmets to Hardhats,’ which recruits veterans to construction apprentice trades once they’ve completed their service. So the desecration of Tommy hit a nerve. The members, who represent all construction trades from operating engineers to insulators and laborers, are raising money to cover the restoration cost.

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H2H Info Webinar for COATS & Cadets

CARPENTERS’ LOCAL 27 — A crew of volunteers have been spending their Saturdays working on renovations to the MacKenzie Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Woodbridge, Ont.

A Helmets to Hardhats Canada (H2H) information session has been scheduled for one week from today, June 9, 2021. Hosted by Normand Trépanier, a 37 year Veteran of the CAF and current Deputy Director of Helmets to Hardhats, and Paul Bury, a 33 year Veteran of the CAF and Director of Placements for Helmets to Hardhats, they will share information about the program, which matches the military community (including senior cadets) with skilled trades in the building & construction industry.

For more information (COATS & Volunteers / SAIOC & bénévoles Facebook)

Former military officer hired to help vets find construction work in region

The veterans support program Helmets to Hardhats Canada has received a federal grant to hire an Atlantic representative.

Dave Giannou, a retired lieutenant-commander in the navy, began his new position last week. He is working to help former military personnel in the region find new employment in the construction industry.

"We are a family, we always take care of our own so this is an opportunity for me to give back to the family," he said.

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Letter from Deputy Minister VAC to H2H

To all Veterans, Families, Associations and Stakeholders,

Today, Government announced that my tour of duty as the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada is coming to a close. My last day with the Department will be 24 May, when I will hang-up my spurs…again!

Over these past six and a half years, it has been a privilege to continue to serve those who served our nation. It was humbling to honour our fallen comrades and I was proud to make every effort to assist those in need.

All of us who wore the uniform of the CAF and RCMP made a choice to sign-up and each of us had a unique experience in uniform. There were good times and there were tough times. Tragically, some of our comrades in arms made the ultimate sacrifice for Canada. Some amongst us were wounded, some became ill or injured.

For some folks, the support from Veterans Affairs made a positive difference on the road to recovery and well-being. In other cases, the great staff at VAC will continue to provide support that reflects Care, Compassion and Respect. Our VAC employees are dedicated to their mission to support all of our Veterans and their families. Almost all have a link to a Veteran in their personal life and many are Veterans themselves. While they have a huge amount of empathy, some need to use all the tools at their disposal to gently nudge us on the road to wellness.

Thank you for your service in the Veterans’ community, for your enduring leadership, generosity and support to those in need. I have appreciated your insights, your determination to make a difference and your understanding. A small request: just as we learned on Basic Training, please continue to work together as a tight-knit team towards a common good for our Veterans.

It’s been great to serve with you again! May you be blessed with health and safety.


Walt Natynczyk

H2H hires Atlantic Rep with help from federal grant

Click on letter to enlarge

Helmets to Hardhats Canada is redoubling its commitment to Armed Forces veterans seeking skilled trades training and career opportunities in the Maritime provinces by appointing retired Lieutenant Commander David Giannou as its Atlantic Canada Transition Service Representative, effective May 10. He will be based out of Halifax.

Helmets to Hardhats — H2H for short — is a not-for-profit group that works in partnership with government, industry and trade unions to assist veterans (as well as their spouses and dependents, reservists, and senior cadets) in their transition to civilian careers in industry. Giannou will coordinate efforts between the Atlantic provinces’ building trades councils, employer associations, and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Giannou’s hiring comes as a direct result of a grant from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund, an initiative of Veterans Affairs Canada that provides financial support to programs that have a positive and lasting impact on the veteran community.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said the organization was deserving of the funding boost. “Helmets to Hardhats does exceptional work in support of our veterans every day. I know David will help veterans find rewarding new careers in the skilled trades across Atlantic Canada. I’m very proud that we’re able to provide them with support to make this possible through the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund.”

H2H Executive Director Joe Maloney welcomed the federal grant. “Canada faces an impending shortage of skilled tradespeople, and these brave men and women have just the skillsets necessary to succeed in the trades,” he said. “These folks need rewarding second careers, and industry needs dedicated workers. It’s a perfect fit, and a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved. Thanks to Veterans Affairs, we’re making this goal a reality.”

Giannou is a native Maritimer, born in Glace Bay, NS and raised in Corner Brook, NL. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1982 through its Marine Engineering Technologist Program, and graduated in 1985 with two diplomas. He served for the next 16 years as a marine engineer on RCN ships and submarines, then spent a decade overseeing simulation training. This expertise led to his 2013 appointment to the Naval Engineering School. He recently retired after a distinguished 36-year career in the RCN.

“David brings with him a wealth of experience in training and engineering, and he’s a product of the Navy,” said Maloney. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have him heading up our efforts to forge new careers for Maritimers from our military.”