The Empty Shoes Campaign memorial to the victims of drunk drivers set up hundreds of empty shoes at Tonkins Park in Calgary, Alta., 

It was a stark message meant to drive home a serious message.

With 1,460 pairs of empty shoes serving as a backdrop, local politicians, emergency services personnel and family members paid tribute Saturday to those who lost their lives to impaired drivers, and called upon lawmakers to take a harder stand against those who choose to get behind the wheel drunk.

Entitled the ‘Empty Shoes Campaign,’ each pair of shoes laid out at Tomkins Park represented the 1,460 people who die every year on Canada’s roads due to impaired driving, and served as a potent reminder of the loss each of those deaths represent to those left behind.

It’s a loss that Hervin Pena knows all too well.

Speaking at the rally, Pena shared memories of his brother Francis, killed on New Year’s Day when his car was hit head-on by an allegedly impaired driver.

Remembered as one who prided himself in giving rides to friends who had too much to drink, Pena wanted his brother’s death to serve as much good as his efforts in life did.

“I don’t want there to be another person like me,” he said.

“I don’t want to be standing up here to explain what it’s like to lose a brother.

“If I can prevent just one life from being lost by telling his story, it’s worth it.”

While initiatives like the Empty Shoes Campaign are important public education tools, Calgary police deputy chief Trevor Daroux said he can’t help to be frustrated that events like Saturday’s rally need to be held at all.

“It’s difficult not to be frustrated,” he said.

“Despite events like today ... people just still aren’t getting the message.

“Relying strictly on enforcement alone is not going to stop it.”

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, who also spoke at the rally, stressed the importance of putting a personal face on drinking and driving deaths.

“This is 100% preventable,” he said.

“Nobody really should have to be there.

“Sadly, this message has to get through until the numbers of death are at zero.”

Source: Calgary Sun



Last updated on: 2014-09-23 | Link to this post