Greetings from The Burns Way!
Thank you for signing up to receive updates on the progress of The Burns Way. Since we launched the website in July, we have seen over 4,000 unique visitors from around the world and now have over 200 subscribers to receive these messages. This is encouraging and certainly gives us the impression that The Burns Way is resonating with a very broad audience.
It has been some time since we last connected, so we are writing to provide you with an update on our work on getting The Burns Way onto the veteran services “menu” to support veterans and their families.
We believe that the anonymous platform that will be offered by The Burns Way will address the “anonymous majority” – those veterans who are hesitant to reach out for help if it means being identified. The connections will always be anonymous from the veteran user’s perspective. They will also retain complete control of the interaction: peer supporters are NOT anonymous, so the veteran seeking support will be able to select the peer based on criteria that they determine to be important: regiment, branch of service, language, culture, sexual orientation, etc. This “micro-cohorting” is unique to The Burns Way and will connect users to peers with whom they feel a high level of trust.
There has been significant traction gained, and we are very confident that we will be able to launch the program in 2024.
Below are a few highlights of our accomplishments:
- The family of Earl Burns Sr. formally granted permission for The Burns Way to use their family name to memorialize him in this project. We had a chance to meet Mrs. Burns and her brother, who is a veteran, in November. The whole family has embraced the tribute to Earl Sr., and it was humbling to hear their story.
- In October, The Burns Way was formally registered as a not-for-profit corporation. We will be establishing a fiduciary Board of Directors, and Mrs. Joyce Burns, Earl’s widow, will be offered an ex-officio seat at the Board table. This was an important step in the evolution of the project. We are committed to transparency and inclusion in the work to be done, and the creation of the not-for-profit ensures an environment that is accountable to the people it is designed to serve.
- We are pleased to share that we have received support from many significant veteran services organizations, including our signatory partners, the Legion, Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones, Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association. In the past few months, we have added True Patriot Love Foundation, Rainbow Veterans of Canada, NATO Veterans Organization of Canada, Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVET), Veterans House, and Mood Disorders Society of Canada. We are grateful for these votes of confidence. These partners represent the interests of over 300,000 veterans from all corners of the veteran community.
- We have engaged in preliminary conversations with the staff at Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) about adapting their peer advocate training programs for use by The Burns Way. MDSC is widely regarded for its outstanding contributions to building capacity so that veterans and their families can receive support from peers with lived experience. We have heard time and again about the importance veterans place on connecting with others who have served, and we are committed to furthering this access.
- From July to November 2023, we ran a media campaign consisting of a series of television spots in Atlantic Canada. This has generated thousands of visits to the website, and we now have a list of over 200 subscribers to receive updates. Our media campaign resulted in two television appearances on CTV Morning Live (Ottawa and Atlantic), two radio interviews, and print articles that appeared in over 175 news outlets across the country. The Burns Way went viral, and the story of this tribute to Earl Burns’ heroism has now entered the conversations of thousands of Canadian families.
- The Burns Way has now briefed seven Members of Parliament, a Senator, and the Veteran Ombud. We have had informal conversations with Minister Petitpas Taylor on two occasions, and we have met with her Chief of Staff, her Deputy Minister, and two Assistant Deputy Ministers.
Peer Support Training for VeteransWe anticipate launching The Burns Way in 2024, and when that time comes, we will be reaching out to the veteran community to secure our “virtual militia” of veteran peer advocates. These will be paid positions and will require candidates to be trained. While this training will be provided by The Burns Way, there is always a need for peer supporters. If you are interested in receiving peer support training, Mood Disorders Society of Canada provides comprehensive programs to prepare veterans to provide a compassionate ear for their comrades. This training is provided free of charge by veteran facilitators with lived experience and who have been leaders in the field for over 35 years. As noted, The Burns Way is pleased to be in conversations with Mood Disorders Society of Canada to be a training partner in the program.
Keeping Veterans Front and Centre
Our new office has been decorated with tributes to our commitments to our Indigenous partners and reconciliation. We recently added our “veteran’s wall”. This work was created by TryCycle Data Systems’ graphic designer, Kari Lebeau, using the vision of our CEO, John MacBeth. You will need to zoom in a bit to see the detail, but you will notice the text in the background is the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Lt. Col. John McRae. There are also some “ghosted” photos – from left to right: Sgt. Earl Burns, David MacBeth Jr. (John’s father), a group of soldiers photographed in 1917 in Passchendaele that includes John’s grandfather, David MacBeth Sr., and on the far right, David MacBeth Sr.’s regimental photo.
The Burns Way memorializes Sgt. Burns in name and is the delivery on a promise made by John to his Dad before he passed away in 2016 to use his mantle to help veterans. John’s grandfather bore the scars of his service we now know as PTSD until his death in 1956. The Burns Way is an effort to ensure that no veteran is denied the opportunity to receive care for the operational stress consequences of serving Canada in the CAF or RCMP.
We are asking for support from the veteran community to bring The Burns Way to the attention of individuals and organizations who could help us in our efforts to get funding. Please consider sending a note to your Member of Parliament and any other potential influencers in your circle who can raise their voice to get us over the finish line!
Wishing you very well. Thank you for your ongoing support of our work. We are approaching a critical time, and we remain optimistic.
the Burns Way