Good neighbours: Airport security workers honoured

The Times Columnist – Pedro Arrais

Al Paterson recently accepted the Commissionaires Governor General award on behalf of the Airport Security Department of Victoria International Airport.

The award recognizes the Security Department for its part in the airport winning the Airports Council International Airport Service Quality Award for airports in North America carrying as many as two million passengers a year.

Paterson was chosen to accept the award by his peers because of his contribution above and beyond the call of duty.

Apart from security and showing travellers where to go, Paterson dons a Santa suit every Christmas season, putting smiles on the faces of children and parents while they wait for their flights.

“He removes the stress of flying with one walk through,” says Jose Brochez, a colleague.

After Christmas, he shaves off hair, beard and eyebrows in the main terminal, raising money for the Victoria Hospice, his charity of choice since the passing of his wife three years ago.

Paterson, chief of site security at the airport, downplays his accomplishments.

“The 50 or so employees at the airport all have a hand in the win,” said Paterson, who was stationed in the military in New Brunswick in 1996. “They all go out of their way to make sure people get to where they’ve got to go in the most efficient way to do so.”

The self-described rotund individual also donated the prize money that came with the award to the hospice.


Commissionaires is a not-for-profit security solutions organization that has been protecting Canadians for 87 years. Their mandate is to provide meaningful employment to veterans of the Canadian Forces and RCMP.

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