UFCW Canada members show Olympic spirit

Olympic torch bearers (top-to-bottom) Alasdair Mills, Doriann George, Shannon Cordingley, Alex Warner, Tim Palmer, and Frank PozzobonThe spirit of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver – where the Games are currently ongoing – burns brightly for a number of UFCW Canada members, with the recent cross-country torch relay including several participants from our ranks.

Alasdair Mills, an Alberta UFCW Canada Local 401 member who works at the Real Canadian Liquorstore in Edmonton, proudly carried the torch in his hometown. Local 401 union representative Laura Lowrie reports Alasdair is an avid Olympics fan, but was lucky enough to win the relay participation through a random online contest by Coca-Cola, one of the Games’ major sponsors. Alasdair was already planning to attend the Vancouver Games, and has also attended the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary; the Sydney, Australia Summer Games in 2000; and the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002.

On the first full day of the flame’s return to British Columbia, it was a Winnipeg member who got the call. Manitoba Local 832’s Doriann George carried the torch south from Golden, B.C., after it arrived in the province from the Banff and Lake Louise region of Alberta. Doriann is a member at General Foods in Winnipeg – where Pizza Pops are king – and was chosen by the employer, which is a prominent Olympic sponsor. “We looked at everyone here, and Doriann has 28 years with the company going back to when it was a sole proprietorship,” the employer said. “She’s a lead hand and a really good person.”

When she informed her husband about being selected, Doriann says he was quite excited. “When I told him, he was basically jumping off the walls. He’s a big-time Olympic guy, so he was really excited,” Doriann says. “He surprised me when I got home from work saying that the family is going to join us out there to cheer me on!” General Mills flew Doriann to Calgary, and then provided transportation to Golden. And while run participants have the opportunity to purchase the hi-tech torch they carry, General Mills made that purchase for Doriann.

And in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, several members – including a local union’s executive officer – got the chance to participate in the relay as it wound its way through the greater Vancouver area just before the Games kicked off.

Canada Safeway Shop Steward Shannon Cordingley, who works at Safeway #161 in Richmond, B.C., just south of Vancouver, was voted by her co-workers as the best representative from the store for a Coke-sponsored leg of the relay. The community activist says, “It’s an honour, and it’s hard to believe it’s actually happening. I never expected to be doing something that the whole world would be watching in my lifetime.”

In North Vancouver, Canada Safeway #140 service clerk Alex Warner – a 12-year member of UFCW Canada Local 1518 – was selected by his co-workers to carry the torch. “I am so honoured to be a Canadian involved in this event,” he says. Alex watches the Olympics on TV every year and especially enjoys watching hockey. He also skis every Thursday and Saturday with a team for people with disabilities called the Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports. Alex is also involved in his store’s health-and-safety committee since he was asked to take on the role three years ago.

The final days of the Olympic Torch Relay also saw Local 1518 members Tim Palmer carry the torch, along with the local union’s Secretary-Treasurer Frank Pozzobon bearing the flame on the final day in Vancouver on Feb. 11 before the Games cauldron was officially lit.

Vol. X No. 7, Feb. 22, 2010