In May, Salvation Army leaders visited Parliament Hill in Ottawa to connect and engage with government officials, and advocate on behalf of those the Army serves across Canada.

The weeklong event, which began with a reception on Monday, was attended by members of Parliament, senators, government staff, and territorial and divisional representatives, including Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd, territorial leaders, and Colonel Evie Diaz, chief secretary. Though similar events have taken place on a smaller scale, this was the first time The Salvation Army participated in a national strategically planned public affairs week on Parliament Hill.

“It was an intentional advocacy week for The Salvation Army. We have a responsibility to remind our federal government partners of the work that we’re doing, how we’re helping Canadians and responding to their needs,” says Lt-Colonel John Murray, territorial secretary for communications. “We have made connections and renewed relationships, and in some cases developed new relationships. Now the key is to take those relationships back into local communities.”

According to Major Rick Zelinsky, territorial public affairs director, The Salvation Army is effective in the communities it serves because of strong partnerships, including those with the federal government and departments such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which provided more than $30 million in funding to The Salvation Army to address food insecurity coming out of the pandemic.

As part of the event, territorial leadership engaged in individual meetings on Parliament Hill with various ministers and federal departments. In addition, delegates participated in a listening exercise with Major Shari Russell and Captain Crystal Porter, territorial Indigenous ministries consultants, to consider and learn about Indigenous relations and the Army’s commitment to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“The Salvation Army week at Parliament is a wonderful opportunity to invest in our relationships, and to remind our elected officials not only of what The Salvation Army does, but why we do it and why we’re motivated,” says Lt-Colonel Murray. “It’s our faith that propels us. Whether it is emergency disaster services, shelters, long-term care or food banks, The Salvation Army meets people at their point of need. The spiritual and emotional care, along with our values of care and compassion, are what differentiate us from other organizations.”

“Thank you for your faith, your service and the example that you set for young people across the country,” said the Honourable Bill Blair, member of Parliament and minister of emergency preparedness, who spoke at a leadership dinner on Wednesday night. At the dinner, Blair announced $10.2 million in new funding for humanitarian workforce relief to build capacity and surge support through The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster services programs in Canada.

“It was a fascinating and an engaging week in Ottawa,” says Major Zelinsky, noting the Army is committed to making it an annual event.

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