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Ryan McKenzie: From Marine Corps Service to Union Leadership

December 4, 2023

In a remarkable testament to the transition from military service to civilian life, Marine Corps Corporal Ryan McKenzie has embarked on an extraordinary journey with the military and the United Steelworkers.

Ryan’s story not only highlights his dedication and personal growth but also underscores the USW’s Veterans of Steel program, which aims to support veterans and help integrate them into the union and their communities. What makes Ryan’s story even more unique is his Métis, indigenous, ancestry, which allowed him to make a fateful decision that changed his life forever. 

Born in Canada, Ryan McKenzie, of Métis descendant, had the opportunity, pre-9/11, to obtain a U.S. Green Card and passport, thanks to his indigenous heritage. This unique situation also opened the door for him to join the United States Marine Corps, a decision he initially described as “young and dumb.” Little did he know that this seemingly impulsive choice would profoundly shape his future.

Ryan served four years of dedicated duty in the United States Marine Corps, stationed in Palm Springs, California, and specialized in 60mm mortars.

During his service he quickly realized that the discipline, toughness and solidarity of being a Marine could also be harnessed to make a difference in the lives of others.

His transition to civilian life led him back to Canada to the pipe shop at Evraz Steel in Regina, Saskatchewan. He quickly rose to Vice President of Local 5890. As a proud Canadian citizen, Ryan’s journey has taken him to the heart of the United Steelworkers’ District 3 in Western Canada, where he now serves as the District 3 Veterans of Steel Coordinator.

In his capacity as a coordinator for the USW’s Vets of Steel program, Ryan plays a pivotal role in fostering camaraderie among veterans and helping them find their place within the union. The program’s mission is straightforward yet powerful: to encourage veterans to get involved, even if it’s just through registration.

Ryan’s leadership and passion have made a significant impact, demonstrating that the bond forged in the military can seamlessly transition into the labor movement.

Ryan’s journey, from the Marine Corps to the USW, exemplifies the importance of veterans’ contributions to the workforce and society. His dedication to the Vets of Steel program serves as an inspiration for others, highlighting the opportunities available for veterans looking to continue their service and make a positive impact in their communities.

Learn more about Veterans of Steel.

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