The Gift of Travel: Air Canada employees making a difference in their communities
Nov 01, 2020

As the holidays approach, the focus for many of us turns to giving and caring for those in our community. Giving back and supporting communities through various programs and partnerships throughout the year has always been part of our culture and imbedded in our employees’ DNA. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected people greatly, we continue to be inspired by Canadians who continued to make a difference in their communities with their actions, showing resilience and bringing hope and optimism for a brighter future.

The recently launched Gift of Travel campaign, celebrates the inspirational stories of community heroes.  Therefore, through this initiative, Air Canada and the Air Canada Foundation are shining the spotlight on the initiatives of employees, many of whom made the best of the COVID-19 pandemic’s terrible situation.

Like a group of nine recruiters, including Ameena Youssef, who, despite being some of the thousands of employees who lost their jobs at Air Canada due to the Pandemic, volunteered several hours of their time with the Canadian Red Cross in Montreal to help recruit more than 400 medical support workers for one of the region’s health agencies.

“It was a tough time for everyone, with a lot of uncertainty. I was fortunate to still have a link with Air Canada, and when the opportunity from the Red Cross came up in June, I saw it as an opportunity to give back to my community by putting my skills to use, at a great time of need. Our mass recruiting efforts resulted in the deployment of more than 900 candidates to the many long-term care facilities we were recruiting for. I feel proud to have had a hand in helping our country and fellow Canadians during these unprecedented times,” said Ameena Youssef.

“The Canadian Red Cross is pleased to have the support of Air Canada as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ann Clancy, Chief of People Officer and Corporate Secretary, Canadian Red Cross. “For the past six months, Air Canada staff has been involved in the largest staff recruitment project in the organization’s history. This effort has allowed the Red Cross to build expert teams to respond to a variety of operations related to the pandemic, including the support being provided in Quebec long-term care homes. This demonstrates our collective impact when we work together with key partners and communities across the country.”

Ultimately, that act of giving back led some of these recruiters to earn employment with the Red Cross, putting their skills to good use to ensure the proper resources were on hand to fight the pandemic.

“While it has been incredibly difficult to see the workforce reductions take place as a result of the pandemic, we celebrate and recognize these individuals who used their talents and experience to give back and make a difference in the lives of so many during these challenging times. It is very rewarding to know that this good deed led to new possibilities,” said Valerie Durand of the Air Canada Foundation.

Alongside the Canadian Red Cross project, six Air Canada employees took part in an initiative to distribute food to vulnerable individuals across Montreal.

And other employees took their own initiative to deliver hygiene kits put together by GlobalMedic to support the DESTA Black Youth Network in Montreal and Sardis Doorway in Chilliwack, B.C.

Even the Air Canada Foundation’s longstanding Wings of Courage program adapted to not being able to physically visit with children at pediatric hospitals. Instead, Air Canada employees volunteered to create videos, which included performing songs and explaining what the day of an Air Canada pilot is like, to virtually send the flight deck to the kids in hospital.