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Coding for Veterans Float Makes Debut in Calgary Stampede Parade



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Spectators will notice a new entry in this year’s Calgary Stampede Parade on July 5. Featuring a replica light armoured vehicle (LAV), a navy frigate, and a fighter jet, the parade float pays tribute to the three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces, and an organization working to help its members. Coding for Veterans offers an online training program for qualified military veterans to help them prepare for a career in software development and cybersecurity.

The program, in partnership with the University of Ottawa, started in 2019 with just five students. Executive director Jeff Musson said it has since helped train more than 600 military veterans, with astounding results. “In the Canadian tech sector, the salaries students end up getting graduating out of our program are very significant. For us, providing that career stability and that financial funding to support their families, what better way to honor their service?”

According to Musson, over 85 percent of program graduates find work immediately after finishing the program. “Those who have served in our military are always looking for their next challenge, so it makes for an easy transition into an IT sector job.” Coding for Veterans is relatively new to the parade game, but it’s already made a big splash.

The program’s first-ever float came on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., as part of the annual Rose Bowl Parade to mark its expansion into the United States. Musson said it was the first Canadian entry in that parade in over 30 years – and in a big surprise, the rose-covered, military-themed float took home the top award for best international float.

“Unbeknownst to us, members of a Calgary Stampede committee were in the grandstands along Colorado Boulevard, and because of that interaction, they invited us to participate in the Stampede parade, and we were more than honored to accept that invitation.” Coding for Veterans would not be able to reuse its rose-adorned float from California, and so enlisted Calgary-based Foam Works Inc. to build its new Stampede Parade entry.

Co-owner Nick Bellemore was more than happy to take on the challenge. “I have family in the military, so it’s something a little bit special to me personally,” said Bellemore. “The sheer size of it makes things a little more complicated, but I’m confident we have a potential parade winner here.”

Along with the LAV, fighter jet, and warship (which is a miniature version of the HMCS Calgary), a large laptop will also be attached to the side of the float – a nod to the online program helping veterans make a career transition. Keeping with the tech theme, the float also features QR codes that parade-goers will be able to scan to learn more about the program.

Tune in to Global Calgary on Friday, July 5, at 8:45 a.m. to watch a special live broadcast of the 2024 Calgary Stampede Parade brought to you by Coding for Veterans. The special broadcast will air on Global Television, the Global TV app,, the Global News YouTube channel, and Amazon Prime.

Rachel Adams

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