Guardians of pedestrian crossings

Crossing Guard guides children at a pedestrian crossing

Courtesy Ottawa Citizen

Every day we see them perform acts of intervention. At pedestrian crossings in school zones, they wave signs, blow whistles, or grab drivers attention with intense eye contact.

They have a lot of responsibility. Our kids lives are at stake. That’s why its understandable that some even have their own form of road rage.

There could be a super hero movie about them. Or a video game. Call it Guardians of the Crossing.

Extraordinary people making roads safer

Crossing guards are ordinary people, doing super things, morning, noon and night. Often in lousy weather. They are the most human aspect of safety in action at pedestrian crossings where young children walk to and from school.

Hired and trained by the local police, they are stationed at the intersections near schools. A crossing guard’s job is to ensure pedestrians make it across roads safely, and to assist in enforcing traffic laws.

Not all drivers and cyclists understand the law, and what they are supposed to do at an intersection manned by a crossing guard. Failure to do so can result in fines and 3 demerit points. So for the record, in Ontario:

Drivers – including cyclists – must stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard — Ministry of Transportation, Ontario, “Making Ontario Roads Safer Act” 2016

The laws of other provinces vary somewhat, but most require vehicles to stop at marked pedestrian crossings. Despite being the law, drivers don’t always stop.

A national safety army gets our kids to school

Guardians of the Crossing patrol pedestrian crossings in school zones

Courtesy Toronto Police Service

That is why nearly every community continues to employ crossing guards in school zones. There are about 600 in Toronto, over 150 in Ottawa, 1,500 – 2,000 in Quebec, and we estimate over ten thousand across Canada.

Through sleet and snow, searing heat, every school day they are there for hours. For that, they are thanked by parents, teachers and even some polite kids.

Impatient drivers may not always appreciate being delayed. We know distracted driving is now the #1 cause of collisions. We should all recognize crossing guards play a key role to ensure drivers see and stop at the pedestrian crossing, respect traffic laws, and keep our kids safe while they are walking to school.

Awarding everyday heroes

Unlike painted pavement, signs, or speed meters, crossing guards often contribute much more than traffic safety in their neighbourhood. They are teachers, coaches, and familiar faces regarded as pillars of their communities. They guard their designated intersection with fierce pride, protective of their flock of pedestrians. Give out smiles, words of encouragement, and generally keep an eye on things.

Parachute and FedEx team up on Canada's Favourite Crossing Guard Contest each year Each year Parachute Canada with the help of FedEx accepts nominations for Canada’s Favourite Crossing Guard. Meet Dave Innis, of St. John’s, NF, one of the 2017 winners.

The jury selects three nominations. They each receive $500, and the same amount for their school. They most likely get applause from the community and a cake. They deserve the bragging rights. The 2018 nominations for the contest are in and three winners will be selected and announced soon.

Its great to highlight those who go above and beyond. We think each and every crossing guard deserves to be celebrated. We all can appreciate how they make crossing the street safer, and the countless injuries they no doubt prevent.

Unfortunately, they are not there all the time. Despite the aid of crossing guards, we know from the statistics, pedestrians injuries are still happening. Zero is the goal, yet we are still a long way off.

Join us

There is more to be done to make it to zero. Join us as we explore and participate in figuring out what else we can do to help make pedestrian crossings safer.  Zebra stripes, crosswalk lights and metered speed signs– we are looking at other human and artificial tools effective measures to improve pedestrian safety.

Above all we think it will require more awareness and and shift in attitudes about safety.

We want to encourage as many schools, safety committees, companies and ordinary folks — whether walkers, riders or drivers– to do their part to make this preventable problem stop. Subscribe to follow this journey , or contact us to learn more about Trimtag’s Be Seen Visibility Project developments.

Zero is the Goal

Zero is th goal stop pedestrian incidents from happeningOne is too many. Zero is the goal. We are talking about lives injured or lost, especially when its preventable.

Our vision is to help stop it from happening

In the news of late are some awful traffic incidents where pedestrians have been struck. That’s devastating news no one wants to hear.


This is, what drove our decision to try and prevent this from happening with our new Be Seen Visibility Project. The aim is to help shed light, both literally and figuratively, on the issue.

We’re not taking sides in this often heated debate between modes of transportation. In fact, we think co-operation, mutual respect and understanding will go a long way to preventing the worst from happening. Zero is the goal we think all parties can agree upon. And, to reach that goal of zero, everyone, no matter what mode of transportation used, has to take part in getting there.

Let’s start with facts to understand the current situation:
We don’t usually focus on math, but in this case, its important to consider some relevant and reliable numbers, courtesy of the national Census and Transport Canada. These help us understand what is going on. There is good news and bad:

That means there is just slightly under 1 vehicle per person in the country. If you consider there are about 25 million licensed drivers, that is more than 1 vehicle for each driver.

Collision Course:
We are moving in the right direction. From 1996 to 2015 Transport Canada reports the good news: the total number of reported road collisions, fatalities and personal injuries has been going down. The pink line shows this positive trend in the chart below.

Pedestrians are the not so good news

If zero is the goal, we are still a long way off. The number of incidents involving pedestrians has remained about the same since 2011. In the latest year reported by Transport Canada, 15.2% of fatalities and 14.3% of serious injury from all reported road collisions in Canada were pedestrians.

In other words, pedestrians are an increasing proportion of those injured or killed on our roads. Add to that, about 2.5% of fatalities and 4.7% of serious injuries from collisions were sustained by cyclists in 2015.

Most of this, is preventable.

Will you join us and be a “Zero Hero”?

We’re working on small solutions with big results. Everyone can participate in the Trimtag Be Seen Visibility Project: drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, schools, city planners, companies, etc.

We need your help get these numbers to zero. Are you ready to play a part in prevention? Join us to be first to hear more about our plans.

Zip, zilch, nil, nada, none … in this case we are setting the bar low. Zero is the goal!

Be Street Seen Visibility Project Launched

Crisis spurs Trimtag to launch “Be Street Seen Visibility Project”
Be seen. Make a difference. Stop accidents from happening. That is the reasoning behind our new Be Street Seen Visibility Project.

An ounce of prevention

Be Seen inspired by Benjamin Franklin's famous piece of advice "An ounce of prevention"

Benjamin Franklin in London, 1767, wearing a blue suit with elaborate gold braid and buttons. Portrait by David Martin, displayed in the White House

Last year we enjoyed sharing some great stories and helping Canada 150 celebrations. Its time now to turn our energy to a new community project. Our goal? Add our expertise to help a good cause.

Inspiration for the project came to us from statesman, inventor, former firefighter and founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. — Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Gazette, 1735

Franklin famously wrote an article in the Pennsylvania Gazette to advise people on how to minimize the risk of fire in their home. He wrote as an “old citizen” to encourage people to take steps prevent fires from hot coal embers. An enlightened American leader, the folksy advisor was also a foreign diplomat and one-time firefighter. Among his many contributions to the founding of America, Franklin is credited with establishing the first volunteer firefighting crew in Philadelphia.

Prevention is  our worthy cause
So many charitable organizations across Canada do great things and need support. We decided our new project had to do three things:

  1. Make a difference in everyday lives of Canadians
  2. Use our expertise to do good
  3. Help advance the cause by making it more visible

We think preventing catastrophe in the first place fits with our company’s Insignia work with first responders – EMS, fire and police. We are inspired to work with organizations like Me to We and admire how well they communicate about causes. To reach the most people, it makes sense for us to be active where it matters to Canadians: close to home.

Goals of the Be Street Seen Visibility Project

Public Health Agency of Canada report spurs Trimtag Be Street Seen Visibility Project

Make a difference in everyday lives

Crossing the street is something everyone does yet it is increasingly dangerous. There is evidence our most vulnerable in society are most at risk: kids and elderly in particular. Recent reports in the news, and grim statistics back this up:

From 1990 – 2009,  there were 18,542 injuries to cyclists and pedestrians injured in a collision with a motor vehicle… most frequent was being struck while crossing a street or intersection. — Public Health Agency of Canada, Injury in Review, 2012.

The scope, cost and impact of injuries are massive yet underfunded in relation to their impact. Injuries are the leading cause of death for Canadians aged 1-44 and affect just as many individuals and their families, or more, than some of our deadliest diseases. Most “accidents” are not accidents at all, but are predictable and preventable events. –Parachute Canada, 2016 report

Key words for us: kids, predictable and preventable – all sunk in. Our Be Street Seen Visibility Project could help the things most dear to us. Next, we thought about how we can apply our expertise to help reduce incidents.

Trimtag Be Street Seen Project aimed at prevention and inspired by youth leaders like Me To WeApply our identification expertise
Know-how to create elements to identify organizations and their people is one of our strengths. Large and small, public, private or not-for-profit: we make items like skills achievement badges for youth organizations, uniform patches for municipal agencies, and all sorts of creative custom apparel trims or brand identity items for businesses.

Every project we do commands our attention to the smallest detail. Delivering the high-quality and high visibility products our customers ask for is what we do every day. That is the identification expertise we bring to the table.

Technical advances are key

We know how to design and produce high-visibility items. We source the latest in new reflective materials, inks and finishes. That is how our police patch in daytime is clearly visible from a distance. At night, the same patch becomes illuminated, even with only a small amount of light from streetlight or car headlights.

Adding such technical advances can make a product literally glow. We know how to create simple items with reflective technology can go a long way to prevent accidents from happening. Our Be Street Seen Project can be like a flashing beam of light switched on at the right moment.

Make some noise
Mass appeal helps communicate messages and build awareness. Beyond literal visibility of our Be Street Seen Project items, we know they can also act as loudspeakers to amplify awareness.

To create mass appeal, we know items have to be small, easy to distribute, easy to apply in a variety of ways. They must be affordable. Design is key. There’s no point in making things that never get out of a drawer. If we create items which people like and want to ‘be seen’ in – they are more likely to be actually worn. The more wearable, the more they will be seen by more people. And being seen is key for any cause to make some noise.

Ultimately our Be Seen Visibility Project will succeed if we can work with all types of organizations across Canada and make everyone more visible. It all adds up:

partners + technology + design + likes + wear = Be Street Seen

That is how Trimtag did the math. We realized our small company is perfectly positioned to make little things which get noticed and do a lot of good preventing bad stuff from happening.

Inspired to make a difference
So that is the story of how Trimtag came to create our own Be Street Seen Visibility Project. We hope to see results happen in the communities where we live. Our vision is to work with other organizations and make a difference right across the country.

It is even better, louder, more effective when we work together. We invite you to join us.

Get started

Our new exclusive Be Street Seen Visibility Project collection will be ready soon. Be the first to receive information and samples, sign up for our newsletter.

Or, if you have your own project and need a quote on a custom design, get in touch with our sales team.

New national anthem

In all of us command a new national anthem

Celebrating feats of athleticism is only one part of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea. Country and sponsor branding is on full display on every uniform, ad and venue. National anthems will be played while flags are raised and medals are handed out

Canada has just scored one for inclusivity. In anthems. A small change to the words of Canada’s national anthem has just become law. Passed by both of Canada’s Houses of Parliament, Bill C-210 received Royal assent this month.

Tessa Virtue Scot Moir receive gold medals and sing the national anthem at the Olympics

Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, celebrate at the medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Canada’s Olympians sang the new version at the flag raising ceremony at the welcoming Canada House in the Olympic Village. Virtue and Moir gave it a memorable sparkle in at the ceremony accepting their Olympic gold medals.

Proposed by the late MP, Mauril Bélanger, the bill altered one of the opening lines of the English version of O Canada to ensure gender parity. The third line “In all thy sons command” becomes “In all of us command”.

It has been a marathon to make this small but significant change. Finally Canada’s national anthem is contemporary, inclusive and reflective of both history and today.

Commanded for a different time and place

O Canada was not without controversy. It was a long time coming, in two official languages. Like the country, it has  distinct beginnings and close ties to history, language and culture. Commissioned by the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier wrote the French lyrics. Composer Calyx Lavallée created the music.

O Canada was first performed for 500 guests at a banquet for the National Congress of French Canadians on June 24, 1880. June 24 continues to be celebrated today in la belle province as Saint Jean Baptiste Day, or la Fête Nationale du Québec.

Uniforms and national anthems rooted in Canada's history at the Plains of Abraham

Uniforms in the Plains of Abraham Museum

Appropriately for a country which expects to win Olympic  gold on the ice, the venue for the banquet was the Pavillion des patineurs – a skating rink on the Grande Allée in Quebec City. The same rink where local boy, Joe Malone lead the Quebec Bulldogs in back to back Stanley Cup wins in 1911-1912 and 1912-1913. The building was destroyed by fire in 1918. It is now the main entrance to Battlefields Park otherwise known as the Plains of Abraham — a seminal place in Canada’s history.

This anthem has a masterful character and when sung by a great number of voices creates a most impressive effect — Review of the performance in Le Canadien on June 30, 1880.

Changing Tunes

Duke of Cornwall and York, later King George V heard O Canada in Toronto in1901

King George V, by Sir Luke Fildes, 1911

In 1901, school children in Toronto sang an English version for the visit of the Duke of Cornwall and York, the future King George V. Others crafted English versions of O Canada for competitions and ceremonies. The popular patriotic tunes of those days were “God Save the King” and the “Maple Leaf Forever”.

The English version of O Canada used today was written in 1908 by Montrealer, Robert Stanley Weir to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.

While the French lyrics and score have remained the same, Weir’s version of O Canada has undergone several rewrites. The first version contained the awkward phrase, “True patriot love thou dost in us command”. It was changed in 1913 to “True patriot love in all thy sons command”. This was when the women’s suffrage movement was at its most controversial. So while O Canada was adopted in French as the de facto national anthem, in English it was “God Save the King”.

In 1927, for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation, Weir’s O Canada lyrics were published by the federal government. This helped it become sung in schools and theatres.

By 1967 the country’s sesquicentennial year, singing O Canada was a morning ritual for schoolchildren in both official languages. Despite numerous attempts by parliament, it still failed to reach status as the country’s national anthem. It was not until 1980 when the National Anthem Act was passed.

O Canada National Anthem Act scoreSince then, no less than a dozen times bills were introduced but failed to change the English lyrics.

Times they are a changing
In a illustration of how Canada’s parliamentary democracy works, the latest bill was tabled in May, 2016 by Mr. Bélanger as a private member’s bill, not by a political party. The ailing Hon. Belanger made it back into the House of Commons in June 2016 for the sole purpose to move the bill to a vote. Bill C-210 passed in the House by a margin of 225 to 74, just a few weeks before Mr. Bélanger’s death.

It took a further 18 months of debate to finally pass third reading in the Senate in January 2018. Some members opposed the idea of changing the lyrics, saying the process was not democratic, and others felt “some things just shouldn’t change”.

The words “In all of us command” is another part of Canada’s history, signalling to the world a progressive and inclusive brand as a country. It also fits with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in  Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982 which guaranteed individual rights and freedom from discrimination.

Now the national anthem itself is a reflection of the equality of all people who call themselves Canadian.

Help in singing from the same song sheet
After more than 100 years, the tune is familiar to the people as the maple leaf flag. But sometimes the words fail. With such a long and changing history, O Canada is sung, but often mumbled or hummed in spots. Canadians of all genders, languages, backgrounds can be forgiven for sometimes tripping on the words in one or more of the official languages.

Now that the version in both official languages is set, voices can sing clearly. Here for reference at your next day of school, hockey game…or hopefully podium ceremony, the new official bilingual words to the new Canadian national anthem, O Canada:

English version (2018)

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

French version:

O Canada! Terre de nos aïeux,

Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!

Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée

Des plus brillants exploits.

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,

Protègera nos foyers et nos droits.

Protègera nos foyers et nos droits.

Bilingual version (2018):

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

We are all in for SickKids VS

SickKids VS : All In campaign

Watch SickKids VS: All In video

It’s a fight. Every single day. For patients, family and staff. And, they need your help. That is the bold message in the extraordinary SickKids VS campaign.

Battling against childhood illness happens on many levels, every day at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

All In for rebuilding SickKids
Fundraising by SickKids Foundation is critical to sustaining what the hospital does. It also urgently needs $1.3 billion to rebuild the hospital on University Avenue.

Launched this fall, “All In” is a new part of the SickKids VS campaign which enlisted an army of 200 kids —actual patient siblings and ambassadors— racing to help. They gather construction materials to the famous tune from the musical, Oliver, “I’d do anything for you”. Along the way, some fall, are injured, they help each other and eventually end up in front of patients. Symbolically one brick is placed in front of the crowd.

You can’t practice 21st century medicine in a 1949 building— Ted Garrard, SickKids Foundation CEO, told CBC Radio’s Here and Now.

SickKids newest building is 25 years old, floors are not able to handle the weight of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and ceilings are too low to accommodate robotic technology. The neonatal intensive care unit needs private spaces for families, children in the bone marrow transplant isolation unit don’t have rooms to play when some of their stays last for six months or a year.

It is the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian health care history. Construction will take 10 years and will happen in phases. What SickKids does every day will continue without interruption.

SickKids VS the greatest challenges in child health
“All In” is a continuation of the SickKids VS campaign. Showing the fight as real and fierce began in 2016. Filmed with medical staff, patients and their families who all agreed to take part. The campaign is meant to show how fierce they are, and to jolt the viewer into taking action.

SickKids battles against childhood illness by attracting the best medical minds in the world to do research. They have found cures for some of the most challenging and rare childhood illnesses. Combined with patient care and education, SickKids is recognized as a world-leading institution where advancements in science and technology present an unprecedented opportunity to change lives of children and their families.

SickKids needs a modern hospital facility to continue the fight. Lives depend on SickKids. Join the fight. We did.

And if that is not reason enough, SickKids tugs at heartstrings even more during the holidays with “Missing Home”.

SickKids: Missing Home

Introducing the Poppy Project

After a year of celebrating Canada’s 150, Trimtag is embarking on a new campaign we call: The Poppy Project. Every November we are proud to see people wearing a red poppy on their lapel. It means we remember. Our Poppy Project is inspired by these modern ways we can remember and express and support veterans. We will tell you more in the months to come, but first, lest we forget:

Veterans Affairs launched 11 Days campaign #CanadaRemembers to ensure a lasting legacy

Veterans Affairs Canada 11 Day Campaign

Veterans Affairs launches 11 Days Campaign
This week, Veterans Affairs Canada launched a new campaign in the lead up to 2017 Remembrance Day.  Called the “11 Days” campaign, the public is encouraged to share how you remember on social media. They suggest photos of poppies, people, peace or monuments and cenotaphs with the hashtag: #CanadaRemembers.

Possibly the most impact in our busy lives: a moment of silence.


In Flanders Fields video inspired Trimtag's Poppy ProjectPoetic view from above
Poppies are also inextricably linked to the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian soldier, John McCrae. Poppies are universally understood as a symbol for sacrifice and call for peace.

To launch their 2017 Poppy Appeal, The Royal British Legion installed lines of the ‘In Flanders Fields’ poem in iconic locations across the UK. Then they filmed them from above using a drone.

Watch the video, it is spectacular. Their mission?  Rethink Remembrance. We were inspired.

To keep memories from fading, the stories must connect to modern times. With 100th anniversaries of seminal WW1 events including Vimy  Hill 70, and Passchendaele, we noticed other ways the poppy has been harnessed in a modern way.

Where Are The Poppies Now
In 2014, 888,246 poppies – one for every British military fatality during the conflict – were created by artist Paul Cummins for the Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red art installation at the Tower of London. Huge crowds visited.

Where are the Poppies Now

Re-uniting the poppies digitally

After the installation, the poppies were sold to the public for £25 each, with profits going to military charities. This past September, a campaign called “Where Are the Poppies Now” was launched to trace and digitally re-unite them. The technology will ‘pin’ the poppies to a digital map.

Many who purchased the poppies have shared their stories as a tribute to servicemen and women in their own family.


Poppy Fields and the Future
Trimtag’s Poppy Project is inspired by both a recognition of the poppy and its past, as well as by the need to continue its powerful force for good into the future. We see the poppy spread as in nature, in a variety of colours and shapes, blooming in vast numbers, and not just on November 11.

The design of Trimtag Poppy Project limited edition Series 001, will be unveiled in early 2018. If you would like to be notified when it is released, please sign up to receive an email notification here.


Canada 150 lasting legacy

Canada’s year-long national celebration is winding down. Highlighted here are a few projects we think will resonate as a Canada 150 lasting legacy. Shining well beyond the final fireworks of 2017 these should inspire Canadians into the future. We have our own new project in the works too, but first, here’s our top picks:

Canada150 lasting legacy from C3 voyage is community bridges

C3 Reconciliation Canoe video

Sea to sea to sea
Arriving in Victoria, British Columbia the C3 voyage concluded its never-been-done-before mission to travel Canada’s three seas on a modified icebreaker. Those aboard will remember the experience of a lifetime. The lasting C3 gift to Canada is the research, community connections and the conversations along the way.

From science, to arts, to the Gord Downie-Chanie Wenjak reconciliation room — even more meaningful, since the singer’s recent passing. Eleven million watched as Downie implored Canadians to do more to correct the past. His part in the Canada 150 lasting legacy is the positive change he has demanded of us. It is already happening.

One last project of the C3 voyage is the reconciliation canoe. Called ‘The Way Forward’ it is a commission by non-natives for indigenous people of Pacific coast to carve a traditional dugout canoe. The intent is to build a bridge between first nations and non-natives while passing on knowledge to indigenous youth. The lasting legacy of Canada 150 is the impact on what happens in future generations. A metaphor for the whole C3 expedition, and apt motto for Canada’s future leaders:

“The young folks are going to be steering that canoe for us in the future”

TransCanadaTrail Canada 150 lasting legacy a 24,000km trail

Until Dec 31, 2017, the federal government will add 50 cents to each dollar over $1,000 donated

A path forward
The epic land-based Trans Canada Trail is another enduring part of Canada 150 lasting legacy. An impressive 24,000 km, 13 provinces and territories are now 100% connected. A new mobile app makes way-finding easier. Trail trekkers less likely to get lost.

Canadians and visitors from all walks of life can ensure the trail is there for the next generation. Until December 31, 2017, for donations of $1,000 or more, every dollar will be matched by 50 cents from the federal government. Whether you are an avid ‘end-to-ender’, snowmobiler, nature photographer, dog walker, cyclist, paddler or armchair hiker, the Trans Canada Trail provides a way for anyone to explore the vast natural diversity of the land we call Canada.

Grab your boots, bike, camera or paddle; stash some water, snacks and your mobile phone. Go explore Canada.

Giant pond hockey
A national hockey team will soon play to win a third consecutive gold at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, S. Korea. Even without our current NHL stars, we like the odds.

Canada 150 lasting legacy pond skating and warm embrace

Courtesy Ottawa Citizen, Tony Caldwell

But first, a massive outdoor skating rink is being hosed down on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. Starting December 7th, below the Canadian Flag atop the Peace Tower, hockey legends and politicians, kids and tourists can lace up for a skate.

Then on December 16, 2017, the Ottawa Senators play the Montréal Canadiens in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the very first National Hockey League game as a closing event of Canada 150 activities.

Continuing right across our cold country, pickup shinny games will happen on roadsides and frozen ponds everywhere. Canadians know winter is inevitable here. Quit complaining and get outside. Warm your hands with Hudson’s Bay Company red mittens, a hot chocolate and Beaver Tail. Embrace the annual opportunity to play a game, exercise in clean fresh air, and teach foreigners and newcomers to learn what can be achieved on frozen ponds.

Canada’s global reputation of cold and ice is an enduring image. So too is Canadians know-how of fun in the cold. Maybe the ultimate Canada 150 lasting legacy is the universal understanding of the warmth which Canadians embrace and accept others is what matters most.

Canada 150 lasting legacy is the warmth of welcome to newcomers and visitorsIf you happen to be in Ottawa, partake in an outdoor skate. Or watch the spectacular winter display of fireworks on Parliament Hill to close out the year. You will be warmed by these enduring legacies of Canada 150.

And now, Trimtag will turn our attention to a new theme for 2018 and beyond. We have called it “The Poppy Project”.  As Remembrance Day approaches, our vision is a way to contribute a lasting legacy…

I am invincible Invictus Games

HRH Prince Harry speaks at official opening ceremonies Sep 23 2017 Toronto

Watch HRH Prince Harry from the 2017 Invictus Games, courtesy BBC News

I knew it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have to help the world understand, and be inspired by, the spirit of those who wear the uniform–HRH Prince Harry at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto, Sep 23, 2017.

A life-changing moment for the Prince occurred in 2008.  He flew a helicopter to transport three British soldiers severely injured in Afghanistan, along with the remains of a Danish soldier. Five years later, when attending the Warrior Games, he saw how sport could help. Physically, psychologically and socially.

The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever and the direction of my life changed with it.

The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014, then Orlando in 2016. It is the sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel. Prince Harry serves as the Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 runs from Sep 23-30. More than 550 competitors participating from 15 nations for 8 days, including Ukraine and Romania joining for the first time. Twelve adaptive sports include: archery, athletics, cycling, driving challenge, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis. A demonstration match of sledge hockey will likely draw fans.

The Invictus Games is far more than athletic competition.

I AM the mater of my fate

Invictus Games on HMCS Halifax, photo courtesy Invictus Games

HMCS Halifax, Courtesy Invictus Games

Symbolism of design: strength and optimism
Invictus means “unconquered” in Latin. The idea of the Games is to be a fountain of resilience of human spirit.

It was inspired by a poem of the same name written by William Ernest Henley in 1875. It’s two final lines are:
‘I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.’

The double entendre effect in the logo is achieved using two colours to highlight “I AM” in yellow inside the stacked lettering of Invictus Games. Meaning and inspiration comes from the games participants. They compete as much with themselves as the other athletes. The use of all capitals in both sans serif and serif helps separate the words, while suggesting strength, boldness of the idea to the participant, volunteer and spectator.

The choice of yellow and black are also symbolic colours for the Invictus Games logo designed in 2014 by London-based firm Lambie-Nairn. Yellow is the brightest colour of the visible spectrum. Optimism, joy are positive associations with yellow. It’s the colour of sunshine and happiness. Glowing through the darkness of black, it relates to the very core of what Invictus  Games are all about.

The Invictus Games have created a visionary brand.

Individual struggles, inspired stories
Retired Captain Trevor Greene of the Canadian Armed Forces was attacked by a Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan in March 2006 and as a result, suffered an axe wound to the head.

When I got home the docs took one look at me and said if I lived – which they doubted – I’d be a vegetable the rest of my life–Captain Greene said at an emotional opening ceremonies in Toronto. My army brothers fought for me against all the odds. They believed in me in the fight and they still do. I had a choice: to accept the prognosis and give up, or to fight like a soldier. I chose to be captain of my destiny, master of my fate.

He has spent years in hospital and rehab recovering.

Each individual’s story has its own struggle which affects the whole family. The Invictus Foundation has documented some like that of Canadian soldier, Mike Trainer. He suffered severe injuries from an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2008. He shares the realities of eleven years recovering from a double amputation, and how his wife Leah Cuffe has been integral to his rehabilitation. View the Podcast

Don’t feel sorry for me – I AM going far
Recovery and rehabilitation of an injured or ill service person is the purpose of the Invictus Games and the Invictus Foundation. Motivation to move on and not be defined by their injuries, visible or otherwise. To be recognized for achievements, not given sympathy.

The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country–Invictus Foundation

Finding new meaningful work is also part of it. A Veterans Career Summit was created by The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee in partnership with Barrick Gold Corporation. The summit will offer potential employers the chance to connect with job-seeking veterans. Veterans can access career counselling, keynote speakers and informal job interviews.

WE Day Toronto 2017 will feature stories from Invictus Games WE Day x Invictus Games: serving to inspiring youth
Inspiring and educating youth are shared values which have brought The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 and WE Day Toronto 2017 together. Working for months to create a special element of WE Day planned for September 28, the Games will be featured to an audience of over 20,000 youth and educators. A two-minute segment and throughout the program will pay tribute to the compelling stories of wounded warriors and families.

The goal is to inspire youth to take action and give back to military communities. The Toronto WE Day 2017 lineup including host Kelly Clarkson, Andre De Grasee, Penny Oleksiak, Rick Hansen, Ban Ki Moon, and Spencer West, and co-founder Marc Keilberger, among others.

The next Invictus Games will be held in Sydney, Australia in 2018.

#IAM inspired.

Visionary Brands

Apple innovation on the farmWell, Canada Day has long come and gone and sadly (almost) the summer too! We are looking forward to fall and the taste of a crisp Canadian apple. To kick off the new season, we return our Brandspotting focus to highlight the aspects of what makes visionary brands. Parties to celebrate Canada 150 will continue, so if you have an event this fall and holiday, we can still help you customize your  celebration right up to the end of December.

Investigating visionary brands
All sorts of things combine to create a visionary brand: A great product or service, strong identity, a compelling story. A brand can help companies create awareness, compete, and command premium prices. Ultimately a visionary brand can add substantial real value to the company. One area we will look at is how corporate culture increasingly plays a key role.

visionary brands like Apple get their Genius to wear blue shirtsGenius in blue t-shirts

Take a great brand like Apple,  they carefully take care of every single aspect of their brand. The product design, intuitive function, the clean matte white packaging and iconic wordless logo. Not to mention cult like following of consumers, developers and investors in the company. Apple ranked number 1 on the  Forbes 2017 world’s most valuable brand list, with a brand value of US$170 billion.

Apple also knows an important aspect of brand value comes from the team within. They have really smart ‘geniuses’ in blue t-shirts. Their stores generate among the highest productivity retail spaces in the world. Their customers are loyal, returning again and again, to spend thousands on the latest device, and to get help using it at the Genius Bar.

visionary brands like Apple get earned media like that for the iPhone8 new design image Nodus and Gordon Kelly

Just ten years ago, the iPhone launched. As they get set to introduce the iPhone8 in the next few weeks, Apple is already enjoying plenty of speculation about the new design, as well as earned media in the financial, tech and consumer spheres. In the image at left by Nodus and Gordon Kelly, interesting the Apple logo is not even necessary.

Culturing brand ambassadors.
People play a key role. We have noticed it is not just Apple, companies are engaging this aspect of building a visionary brand more than ever. Corporations no long just hire employees, they seek brand ambassadors. At all levels. At the same time, “corporate culture”,  plays an important role in attracting and retaining good people to work for them.

The best are able to convert employees into brand advocates, gurus and ambassadors.In many sectors there is more and more competition for people. We are exploring how organizations go beyond pay and benefits, and create a strong corporate brand and cultivate employees as brand ambassadors. It goes way beyond t-shirts.

I give you my word

Another aspect of visionary brands is how they tap their human resources for the oldest form of advertising, word-of-mouth. Relevant more than ever today. Companies look for employees to add their voice to external social media ‘influencers’ — the contemporary digital form of word-of-mouth. Although the lines are blurring when it comes to influencers independence, if they are paid to say something nice about a brand.

Human contact from knowledgeable staff is still very relevant as a brand tool. Influence is expensive to buy, and very valuable. It is no accident the most desirable companies to work hard to attract, train and retain good people as brand ambassadors. Genius.

Next, we will look at an example of a successful brand that is closely tied to a colour: purple.


Royal blue gift

Royal blue Sapphire Snowflake Brooche

Photo: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall

True north, beautiful & rare. Aptly named ‘Beluga’ sapphires are the natural royal blue gems featured in a gift given by Canada to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to honour her 65 year reign.

Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British Monarch on September 9, 2015.

This week at a Canada 150 ceremony at Canada House in London, Governor General David Johnston presented Her Majesty The Queen with the Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch.

Unlike many blue sapphires which need heat to enhance their colour, the royal blue of these Beluga sapphires is naturally occurring.

This brooch celebrates the historic and profound relationship between Her Majesty and Canada. — HRH, Governor General of Canada, David Johnston

A rare find

The 48 royal blue Beluga sapphires were a rare find in Canada’s far north in 2002.  On Baffin Island, Nunavut, two brothers, Seemeega and Nowdluk Aqpik discovered the gems on a hilltop. The design of the brooch — appropriately a snowflake — features an ombré effect created by the different shades of blue. The darkest blue sapphires are at the centre, with lighter blue stones at the edge and surrounded by diamonds.

Symbolic gifts and royal visits to Canada

Maple Leaf pin worn by Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton on her royal visit to Canada July 2011

The platinum and diamond Maple Leaf pin a gift from Canada in 1939

The new Sapphire Snowflake Jubilee Brooch is meant to be a companion to other symbolic gifts.  At the Canada 150 ceremony, the Queen wore platinum and diamond Maple Leaf brooch, also a gift from Canada. It was given to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by her husband King George VI, to mark the first tour of Canada by a reigning monarch in 1939.

That same pin was loaned to then Princess Elizabeth for her first royal visit to Canada in the summer of 1951, just three months before her coronation.

Her Majesty inherited Maple Leaf brooch in 2002. She has worn and shared it often. Camilla wore it on her inaugural trip to the Canada in 2009. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton borrowed it for her official visit to Canada in July 2011 with Prince William.

Protecting The Queen’s collection of royal blue jewels

Imperial State Crown has 17 royal blue sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and 2868 diamonds

The Imperial State Crown has 17 royal blue sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and 2868 diamonds, and is guarded by Yeoman Warders

We don’t know if royal blue is the Queen’s favourite colour, but seems possible since a number of famous jewels include royal blue sapphires.

Perhaps most spectacular is the Imperial State Crown,which makes up part of the royal regalia. It features 17 sapphires, the largest oval shaped one is known as the ‘Stuart Sapphire’. A plate behind it is engraved to mark the history of the Crown.

This crown is exchanged at the end of the coronation ceremony, and also used at the annual State Opening of Parliament. When not in use, Yeoman Warders guard the crown and other royal assets on public view at the Jewel House at the Tower of London. You might notice the same crown is a prominent part on the front of their scarlet uniform insignia, originating from the 15th century. The outfit causes the guards to be commonly misnamed as ‘Beefeaters’, possibly because of their presence on the label of the popular Beefeater, a brand of London Dry Gin.

Canadians can see the Royal Crown Jewels, or view an equally impressive collection of contemporary Canadian art and design at the newly renovated Canada House in Trafalgar Square.

Canadians can visit the spectacularly renovated Canada House in London's Trafalgar Square on Fridays

Interior of Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London