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Q&A: Jim Adamson and Brian Claman

August 16, 2023  By Brittani Schroeder

Photo credit: Canada 911 Ride Foundation

Recently, editor Brittani Schroeder spoke with Jim Adamson and Brian Claman of the Canada 911 Ride Foundation about the history of the foundation and how they hope to honour fallen first responders.

Q: How did you come to create the foundation?

Jim Adamson (JA): I was a police officer with the Toronto Police Service for 36 years. Within two years of beginning my policing career, I knew I wanted to find a way to give back to Canadian communities. It may sound hokey, but I sincerely mean that if I could go out and make a difference in somebody’s life, I thought I’d done a good job. Later in my career, I became an instructor at the Toronto Police College and an instructor in Seneca College’s police foundations program.

I was working at the Toronto Police College on Sept. 11, 2001. A number of my colleagues and I offered our services, and we were actually declined because there weren’t enough accommodations for all the first responders who had gone to help. They were so overwhelmed with people coming into the city.

We still wanted to assist in some way, so we created and printed a batch of T-shirts for a fundraiser. On the back of the shirt was a graphic of a flagpole, bearing both the Canadian and American flags; on the front were the NYPD and the New York Port Authority crests. We sold the shirts for $10 each, and within 60 days, we had raised a substantial amount of money. We went down to the Rosewood Ballroom in Manhattan and presented a cheque for $100,000 to the NYPD and Port Authority Police Widows and Orphans Fund.”


Dan Lawrence – President, Markham Outdoor Power and I, along with a few others, went to the United States to join a motorcycle ride to honour those who were lost in the attacks. It was huge a huge ride—we’re talking at least a thousand motorcycles and riders who went from state to state.

Brian Claman (BC): When Jim and Dan returned home, they shared a passion for creating a similar ride in Canada. It would honour fallen first responders who were killed in the line of duty and assist children who have been impacted as a result of a criminal act. This is when the Canada 911 Ride Foundation was created.

Q: Can you tell us about the foundation?

JA: The first Canada 911 ride happened 2006. There has been an annual ride for the past 17 years, and the foundation has been able to raise over $1 million in support of its causes. In the beginning, the ride started out really small. We had some support from the Toronto Police Traffic Services and the Ontario Provincial Police Golden Helmets team led by Chief Supt. Dave Wall.

Each year during the annual motorcycle ride, the families of the fallen first responders and the victims of crime are invited to the Saturday night banquet where the fallen are honoured. The ride attracts about 120 riders who participate in the two-day ride over an August weekend in Ontario. The ride is fully police-escorted, the only one of its kind in Canada. EMS teams typically follow the route in support of the ride as well.

We also get a lot of support from those in the fire service, especially Fire Chief Rick Harrison of the Township of Brock. Once we tell him about our route for the ride each year, he contacts all the fire services along the route, and they’ll be out there cheering us on, waving at us from the side of the road or on overpasses, and raising Canadian flags on their ladders and trucks. There was one year that our route went from Richmond Hill to Niagara Falls, and there was a firetruck and fire service personnel on every overpass during that ride.

BC: About 10 years ago, we created a second annual ride that takes place in Atlantic Canada. We’re looking at creating a Western Canada ride, but we’re still looking to find our strategic partners out west. We’d love to start that up.

Q: Can you go into more detail on partnering with The Mikey Network?

BC: Early in the creation of the foundation, a strategic partnership with The Mikey Network was put in place. Their mission is to provide public access to defibrillators, AEDs, in public locations so that people’s lives can be saved. For the fallen officers, firefighters and paramedics, and the children who are victims of crime, The Mikey Network and the Canada 911 Ride Foundation donate a Mikey defibrillator. In this way, when we donate it in their name, they may continue to serve their communities after passing.

A recent example of this kind of donation was made in honour of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis, who was killed in a Danforth shooting in Toronto when she was out to dinner with her family.

Q: What will the 2023 ride be like?

BC: This year, the Ontario Canada 911 ride will be dedicated to the police officers who have been killed since Sept. 2022. This has been a terrible year in terms of first responder loss of life. Usually, and thankfully, losses in Canada are about one per year. Now we’ve had more than 10 in the span of less than a year.

When we lose a first responder, we all feel it – it’s an attack on all first responders. This is just one of the many ways that we want to give back. We’re passionate about continuing this for many years to come.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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