LABRADOR WEST, N.L.
It was a MADD weekend.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) kicked off their annual Red Ribbon campaign with two days of events.
On Friday, Nov. 30, there was an event to explain the campaign and to thank the many supporters of MADD in Labrador West.
During the evening there were words from many of the participants, but the main theme was don’t drink (or use drugs that cause impairment) and drive.
Former president Josephine Gaulton-Rowe spoke about her involvement in getting the MADD chapter started in the area.
“I had two sisters killed by a drunk driver and after hearing about MADD and listening to what they did, we called a meeting in Labrador West and the chapter was formed,” she said.
Gaulton-Rowe told those gathered that for many years she was angry at the driver and angry about what happened. At another national MADD meeting she encountered a member who went through a similar situation and dealt with it.
“I had to lose the anger, it was eating away at me,” she said. “I did and now I work to send the positive message ‘don’t drink and drive,’” she said.
At Fridays gathering and then at an event at the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), followed by the Red Ribbon launch, participants were told if they are going out and they plan to drink, make an arrangement to get home safely. Call a taxi, have a designated driver, arrange for a friend to come and get them — it’s that simple.
Statistics show that, on average, four people a day die in Canada because of drunk driving and scores more are seriously injured.
On Dec. 1 the day kicked off at IOC, who made efforts to strengthen their commitment to MADD and the RNC to help combat against drunk driving.
Heather Bruce-Veitch, director of communications and external affairs for IOC, along with MADD members drove to the mine where the first red ribbon of thousands to be distributed to IOC workers was tied to a massive haul truck.
IOC general manager Scott Barney, assisted by MADD members, tied a ribbon to one of the light vehicles.
Bruce-Veitch says ribbons will be placed on all their light vehicles. They are encouraging employees to do the same and to challenge each other.
At IOC the message is ‘Tie it, wear it, show it, share it, live it.”
After leaving the mine the group headed to the Labrador Mall where the MADD Christmas tree sits in the centre area. It is full of red ribbons and memorials to people who have died as a result of drunk driving.
RNC Sgt. Lisa Harris was one of the many police officers that participated in the event. She explained that more patrols would be held during the Christmas season, as more people tend to celebrate and have Christmas parties, which often includes alcohol.
Like MADD, Harris encourages people to call 911 if they suspect somebody is driving impaired.
Local MADD president Thelma Ricketts emphasized the fact and mentioned that there is also a serious problem with people who drink and then use snowmobiles.
At that point Bruce-Veitch came forward and said IOC was also concerned about that as well and presented Harris with the keys to a new snowmobile, to assist RNC officers to make more patrols on the snowmobile trails.
The campaign was officially launched, and the many people who were there to support MADD were provided with red ribbons and other items. There was singing and refreshments and evidence that the don’t drink and drive message is being heard loud and clear. MADD members hope people heed it.