Like many other veterans across Canada, Allan Waye struggled to reintegrate into civilian life after his career in the military. Originally from Newfoundland, Waye eventually found himself in Calgary following his retirement from the Canadian Forces. Waye was involved in the military for 10 years, actively serving six of them in three different units across Canada: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Alberta and The Canadian Scottish Regiment in British Columbia.
In October of 2019, Waye became the proud occupant of one of the 15 tiny homes that make up a new community in Calgary for veterans of the Canadian Forces. Each house has a footprint of 275 square feet and is fully equipped with all the features of a larger home, including a small but functional kitchen, a three-piece bathroom and a living area with a dual-function sofa/Murphy bed and storage. The homes were built for veterans to refamiliarize themselves with everyday life outside of the military, and each one is named after a Canadian soldier who died in Afghanistan.
“There’s always a brotherhood in the military, and it’s just like that here. We’re a family,” said Waye when asked how he has found living in a community of veterans.
Sadly, many veterans experience homelessness after leaving the military and transitioning into civilian life. “I found out about this village through the Veterans Association. I was experiencing some health issues and needed assistance, and they recommended this place,” said Waye. “I took one look at it and said, this is very healthy. This will be good for me.”
The village is located close to a variety of amenities that cater to veterans, including the Veterans Association, the Royal Canadian Legion, a food bank and fitness facilities. Waye walks to the gym, which he says is great for reducing stress and helping him work through his post-traumatic stress disorder.
As for the house itself, Waye admits that he doesn’t keep a lot of personal items with him, making it very easy for him to clean and maintain a small space. “It’s got everything I need, even a bathtub. I feel lucky because everything is so new and clean.”
A veteran himself, Rory Thompson, Manager Learning and Development, has proven himself a leader at CP by advocating for veterans both on the job and during their journeys towards reintegrating into society following their service. When Thompson launched the idea of the Spin for a Veteran event in 2017, it was instantly embraced and became a resounding success. In the three years that CP has hosted the annual event, led by Thompson, more than $800,000 has been raised for the Homes For Heroes Foundation, the organization behind the Veterans Village. This donation helped with construction costs for more than half of the homes in the Veterans Village.
The CEO Awards for Excellence Community Hero title could not be more apt for Thompson, as the value he places on community is echoed in every aspect of the annual Spin for a Veteran event and the new Veterans Village.
As Waye explains, “It’s not just about the community of veterans in the village, it’s the community around us too. People in the surrounding community love this idea. You never know who is going to knock on your door and say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ It’s very special.”