Hadfield helps celebrate plant’s injury-free year
Doing something incredible takes hard work, retired astronaut Chris Hadfield told 2,000 Imperial Oil employees and contractors gathered Thursday to celebrate a rare lost-time-injuryfree year at the company’s Sarnia manufacturing site.
He spoke from a stage on the home ice of the Sarnia Sting about growing up inspired by Apollo missions to the moon and working hard to become a fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut, the first Canadian to walk in space and the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.
Hadfield, who attended King George VI Public School in Sarnia and still spends time at a cottage on Stag Island in the St. Clair River, “is a hometown hero,” said James Ritchie, Imperial’s Sarnia chemical plant manager.
“Being able to bring him here to reinforce the messages we have at Imperial, that’s just an honour. . . . We’re over the moon.”
The safety event followed a lost-time-accident-free year at the company’s Sarnia manufacturing site in 2018.
It was the first time that has happened in the 120-year history of the site, where Imperial operates a refinery, chemical plant and research centre, Ritchie said.
“What we are doing is worldclass performance.”
Being world-class takes “a tremendous amount of work,” Hadfield told the crowd in the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
He spoke about the first NASA mission to the moon that inspired him years ago, calling it an “absolutely crazy, impossible, worldclass thing to do.”
But that mission happened because of the “audaciousness” of late U.S. President John Kennedy, who, in the early 1960s, pledged his country would travel to the moon.
“He challenged everybody to try to do something that was right beyond impossible,” Hadfield said.
Hadfield compared that to his own as a youngster growing up in Sarnia, first becoming an air cadet and then joining the Air Force on his way to being named a Canadian astronaut in 1992, in the same group as Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
Hadfield made three trips to space and became a social media sensation when he recorded videos about life in orbit, as well as a cover version of a David Bowie song, Space Oddity, recorded on the space station.
He spoke about a successful emergency space walk needed while he was commanding the space station when a cooling system sprung a leak.
“It wasn’t by luck and it wasn’t inevitable,” he said about the space walk that “saved the day.”
It was the result of “decades of one goal, one team,” Hadfield said.
“You need to have a perpetual dissatisfaction with your skill set and a constant, relentless drive to become better at the things that matter to you.”
Following the safety day presentation, Hadfield was scheduled to visit with students at P. E. McGibbon Public School in Sarnia.
You need to have a perpetual dissatisfaction with your skill set and a constant, relentless drive to become better at the things that matter to you.”
Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield
Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield speaks Thursday at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena during a safety day held for employees and contractors from Imperial Oil's Sarnia Manufacturing Site. Hadfield made three trips to space and was the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.