The official Twitter account for Canadian Forces stationed in the U.S. (@CAFinUS) has been making waves on social media lately.
From a viral post of a photo of Master Seaman Francis Legare kissing his partner Corey Vautour in 2016 as part of efforts to social media efforts to reclaim the term “Proud Boys” from the hate group, to cleverly putting a COVID-19 spin on a retweet sing-a-long with Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, the account’s content is often unforgettable. Its day-to-day tweets commemorate fallen soldiers, share Canadian history — both good and bad — and often offer supportive words or suggestions.
The account is painfully Canadian. “Nice people. Maple syrup,” reads the bio. The pinned post sends love to the U.S. A recent tweet extols the superiority of Montreal bagels.
Capt. Kirk Sullivan is the genius behind the account, and says he doesn’t need to get approval before posting.
“I have the trust of my leadership,” Sullivan said, “which is invaluable, and I’m humbled and appreciate it.”
The 38-year-old Newfoundlander spent six years as a marine engineer for the Royal Canadian Navy, Maclean’s reported. He got an English literature degree in 2012 from the Royal Military College and then started working as a public affairs officer. He’s been running the @CAFinUS account since mid-2018 from the Canadian embassy in Washington and just received a master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University.
The account, which has over 55,000 followers, gained over 10,000 of them this month alone thanks to Sullivan’s thoughtful tweets, according to social media analytics website SocialBlade. His tweets have garnered approval from Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy and he can count Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds as one of its many followers.
Posting with that many eyes on you can be a lot of pressure, but Sullivan — who has used Twitter since 2009 — takes the job seriously.
“It’s unnerving most of the time for me,” he told the Canadian Press. “But I guess I believe in it to the point where I try to get over my own nervousness about consequences on me, personally, and actually go do this. Because it’s clearly important. It matters to people. It matters to me.”
But Sullivan clearly knows what he’s doing, and his ability to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s making waves on social media was on full display when he tweeted the historical photo of Legare and Vautour kissing. He saw the movement to reclaim the #ProudBoys hashtag as an opportunity to highlight military’s mission to eliminating discrimination and hate in its ranks and increase diversity.
“If you look at our past, we didn’t always treat people fairly equally. I think it’s important to acknowledge that,” Sullivan told HuffPost Canada earlier this month. “It’s important to let people know, both internally within our organization and externally, what we stand for, and who we stand for and who we are.”
Sullivan said he tries to ensure the account’s voice isn’t his, or reflect his opinions, but rather represents all Canadians.
“I think people would be really disappointed if they met me in person and thought they were meeting ‘CAF in U.S.,’” he said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for the account to reflect me solely.”
With files from the Canadian Press
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