From Whitehorse to Charlottetown, it was a day of celebrations and thanks today at all 1,100 CIBC banking centres across the country, as the company celebrated its 150th birthday. Many of Canada’s Paralympians were star guests at many of the branches. It was on this day, May 15, 1867, that the bank was founded.
For Canada’s Paralympians it was chance to recognize CIBC’s vast contributions to Team Canada beginning with the partnership struck in 2013, through Sochi in 2014, Rio in 2016 and now PyeongChang which is set for March 2018.
“It’s very exciting to be part of this event and be patriotic as well,” said two-time Paralympic Games wheelchair racer Chelsea Larivière, wearing her silver medal from Athens 2004, at the Ottawa location on Sparks Street. “It’s important to recognize the support CIBC has given to the Paralympic team and Paralympic athletes. It’s really special to have this opportunity.”
Large scale celebrations were held at branches in Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Mississauga, Kelowna, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Charlottetown.
More athletes sent video messages and posted on social media their appreciation for the CIBC’s TeamNext program which has helped develop many of Canada’s current Paralympic stars like boccia player Alison Levine and wheelchair rugby player Cody Caldwell, as well as many more future stars through a mentorship program which includes Paralympic legends Benoit Huot and Josh Cassidy.
For Larivière, support from corporate partners like CIBC are crucial to the future of Paralympic athletes.
“Having the opportunity to compete for Canada at the Games meant everything to me,” she said. “You train so hard for so long to get to that level. When it finally happens: it is so special, it is so emotional. That’s the pinnacle of your sport and athletic career.”
In Ottawa, Kathleen Woodard, Senior Vice-President and Region Head Ontario, spoke to the crowd and special guests gathered outside in the noon hour sunshine, enjoying hot chocolate, coffee, hot dogs and cupcakes.
“I think today is about thank you,” said Woodard. “It’s been a thank you to our team members, a thank you to our clients to believe in us and trust us, and it’s a thank you to all our partners in the community and [the Paralympic Movement] are one of those – so thank you.”