Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HELPING KEEP THE ROADS SAFE – Jacquelyn Van Marck, the president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is seen with the MADD Canada Memorial Wall during Friday’s kick-off of the seasonal campaign. Inset Jon Trefrey, Murray Martin and Jesse Dawson, left-right.

Impaired driving tragedies called preventable

The annual campaign to stop impaired driving kicked off Friday with a number of guest speakers, including Premier Sandy Silver, who lost a favourite cousin to a drunk driver.

By Chuck Tobin on November 23, 2020

The annual campaign to stop impaired driving kicked off Friday with a number of guest speakers, including Premier Sandy Silver, who lost a favourite cousin to a drunk driver.

The launch of Project Red Ribbon 2020 by Mothers Against Drunk Driving was held at the Whitehorse branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The annual Red Ribbon campaign is designed to encourage individuals to wear the ribbon, or attach it to their vehicles, as a sign of their commitment to drive sober and discourage others from driving impaired.

Whitehorse MADD president Jacquelyn Van Marck noted in her opening remarks the Legion has partnered with her organization, and MADD will now be headquartered at the Legion.

Van Marck welcomed guest speaker after guest speaker, some 15 in all.

Many had personal stories of how family members or close friends were killed by drunk drivers.

At the head of the room was a MADD Memorial Wall with some 816 pictures of people killed on the roadways – pictures of children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, neighbours.

The wall represented only a fraction of the people drunks have killed across the country.

Coun. Jesse Dawson of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation told the audience of how the First Nation community lost two youth not long ago in a collision involving an impaired driver.

“People phoned around,” she said. “Have you seen my son, have you seen my daughter? The anxiety level was very high. I was looking around for my son.”

As Yukoners remain enmeshed by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dawson said, they must not lose sight of the importance of driving sober and encouraging others to drive sober.

“I want to acknowledge and support the MADD organization for being the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves,” she said, in obvious reference to those killed by drunk drivers.

“It’s very important for the RCMP to come and support MADD whenever we can because impaired driving every single year impacts families across Canada, and Yukon is no different,” RCMP Supt. Chan Daktari Dara told the audience.

“Every year, lives are shattered because people drive drunk and either get involved in a crash that kills themselves, innocent people, or due to the massive impact, somebody lives forever through other injuries or hardship that impaired driving causes.”

Silver suggested in his address Yukoners don’t seem to be getting the message.

“Unfortunately, since 2014, rates of impaired driving in the Yukon have been higher than the rest of Canada, and last year alone there were 425 charges laid,” Silver said.

“We have the second-highest rate of motor vehicle deaths and injuries in the country, and alcohol remains one of the leading causes.

“It is unacceptable, and things have to change.”

Impaired driving tragedy is preventable, the premier lamented.

Yet it keeps happening, and he’s seen in his hometown of Dawson City, and at his boyhood home in Antigonish, N.S.

Silver said Yukoners need to speak up when somebody they know is making a bad choice that puts others in danger. Call 9-1-1 if you know somebody is impaired or you think impaired.

Laws and enforcement are important, but everybody needs to be involved, he said.

“We need to talk more about impaired driving and come together to create a culture where it is socially unacceptable to drink or do drugs and then get behind the wheel.”

Silver offered his gratitude to the police, paramedics, firefighters and medical staff who witness the aftermath of tragedy brought on by drunk drivers.

“I have been a witness to a lot of tragedy, and it’s unnecessary and can be fixed through education,” paramedic Jon Trefrey, a veteran of 25 years here, said in his presentation.

Trefrey noted he and a territorial cabinet minister participated in last year’s check stop program.

It was interesting to see the reactions of drivers watching them walk up to the window after the RCMP had finished doing their check, he said.

Trefrey said the public was generally thankful for their participation in the check stop program, and for MADD organizing it.

The paramedic said he echoed the comments of the speakers before him. He noted how he also works with youth through a separate program – Prevent Reduce Trauma in Youth.

It works, he said.

Local outdoors columnist Murray Martin read out a poem he wrote in memory of his brother, who was killed in Ontario by a drunk driver 50 years ago.

It was about how people think they’re invisible, think they can drink and drive with immunity, particularly during the holiday season.

It ends with a father hearing a thump as he rounds a corner near his home.

It’s not until the police show up at his door did he know his daughter was in the hospital after being struck by a car.

“The hospital was silent when he walked through the door

He reached out and touched the hand that seem to be growing cold

I waved to you dear Daddy when I saw your car draw near

I guess you didn’t see me as it’s your merry time of year

He stood there shocked, as her little hand grew cold

If only there had been a spot check, he would not have drank so bold.”

Comments (7)

Up 1 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Nov 27, 2020 at 10:05 am

There are a number of chronic DUI drivers out there, the courts have already taken their licences away, yet they continue to put others at risk as it is simple to buy another old car to get around. The ignition interlock approach failed because these drivers would get one of their kids or another to blow into the device allowing the car to start - think about that for a minute. These drivers have serious addictions and will do whatever they need to get what they have to to feed that addiction. They have zero respect for the law or the others on the roads and continue to put many at risk because of their actions - so why don't we know who these people are? Their victims get their pictures on a poster, I say it's time for these criminals to be identified in all their glory. Put them on a poster.

Up 11 Down 10

TheHammer on Nov 25, 2020 at 2:19 pm

We are talking about people with tunnel vision. A drunk driving charge should carry a life time ban on driving.

Up 11 Down 9

Josey Wales on Nov 25, 2020 at 7:47 am

Mothers Against DRINKING Mothers, is needed big time.
I suppose developing fetuses', cannot pull down statues, demand crosswalks, burn cities down...
and in our Canada since you can terminate a fetus AFTER arrival when it is a wee human?

If we are going to have a conversation on what booze is, does and can do.
Oh yeah...Shhhh the moose in the room...let us not disturb the enabled peace.
Watch out for that lump in the carpet, been sweeping hard since 1982.

See ya'll at the next NCR article on why person X was slain, as yes it does matter.
Unless you hold only Liberal Public Safety values, then I suppose it does not.

Up 24 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Nov 24, 2020 at 2:44 pm

I said it before and will again.
Make the identity of those convicted of impaired driving public. No more hiding in plain sight for these criminals.

Up 21 Down 5

Dave on Nov 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm

And yet the courts do basically nothing when drivers with DUI after DUI are pulled over repeatedly. Those drivers are jokingly prohibited from driving again and their beater car is impounded. Usually it takes them a week or so to round up another uninsured junker to drive while they ignore their driving prohibition and zoom around until they’re pulled over the next time.
These people rarely if ever face any real consequences for impaired driving, there’s almost never prison time since the system is geared to hand out fines and administrative penalties which these repeat impaired drivers completely ignore. If they operate outside the system and ignore drivers licences, insurance and the like the administrators can’t do much except wring their hands.

Up 10 Down 10

Josey Wales on Nov 24, 2020 at 7:01 am

We should do a cross reference as to how many folks get killed, raped, robbed, stabbed by the "untouchables".
You know, the re-offending (clearly misunderstood) P'sOS that our courts release OR...KEY word...CHOOSE NOT to ever see a cage. Yeah, that ever growing GIANT mass of folks.
Included are often drunk drivers, a few cultures where violence is embraced in their sandbox which via DIE/globalists fools is now here, the sugar 'n spice is "always nice" sisterhood, which is total bulls**it ask Karla H. you get the idea...Liberal Public Safety is the theme.

Funny that, YLC is an essential service...so we can carry on the lubricity of our state owned brains.
Remember folks certain drunks will have as many opportunities as they need to souse their lives into YOUR lane, maim ya, kill your loved ones etc.
The courts with lady justice, and her DNA microscope and state equipped blinders too of course... ensure Diversity, inclusion and Equity...will continue their enabling and absolutely race based assessment of "Public Safety".

Spoiler...there is none, we are on our own as the composting of Canada's ways suggests VERY, VERY strongly.
So please, spare me with the antidotes, and optics of concern in regards to "public safety".

Up 24 Down 5

Lead by example on Nov 23, 2020 at 4:29 pm

How about no more funded liquor at government events/parties?

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