Operation Lifesaver Canada Launches New Rail-safety Resources for Indigenous Communities

OTTAWA, Ontario -- In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Operation Lifesaver (OL) — a national not-for-profit dedicated to reducing serious injuries and deaths on rail lines in Canada — today unveiled new rail safety resources specifically for Indigenous communities.

“We’re delighted that Operation Lifesaver is enabling us to provide safety materials to our Innu and Naskapi communities in their native language”

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The resources include print materials — safety brochures and colouring and activity sheets for children — and virtual-reality videos, which have been translated into Innu, Naskapi and Atikamekw, in addition to English and French.

“Operation Lifesaver’s goal is to reach as many Canadians as possible with our rail safety message. Communicating in Indigenous languages ensures that First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities are part of that life-saving conversation,” said Sarah Mayes, OL’s National Director.

More than 100 Canadians are killed or seriously injured each year in railway crossing and trespassing incidents. Last year, that included an eight-year-old boy who was tragically killed by a train in Wemotaci, Que., a First Nation’s community 400 km north of Montreal, while playing on a railway bridge. OL responded to the tragedy by working with the community to deliver rail-safety presentations in schools, training local leaders as Rail Safety Ambassadors, and translating materials into the Atikamekw language spoken by the First Nation.

OL has also translated materials into Innu and Naskapi, after a receiving a request for rail-safety resources in these languages from its railway partner, Tshiuetin Rail. The railway is owned and operated by three First Nations — the Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, and the Innu Nation of Matimekush–Lac John — and connects the communities of Emeril, Labrador and Scheffervile, Que. via 132 miles of track.

“We’re delighted that Operation Lifesaver is enabling us to provide safety materials to our Innu and Naskapi communities in their native language,” said Orlando Cordova, Director General and Chief of Operations for Tshiuetin Rail. “This initiative will go a long way towards engaging passengers and the public along our rail line regarding railway safety.”

OL plans to expand its range of translated Indigenous resources in the coming months to include Ojibway, Mohawk, Cree and Mi’kmaq languages, and has hired a new outreach coordinator to engage with Indigenous communities across Canada about rail safety. All of OL’s Indigenous resources feature a logo — developed by Indigenous design firm Design de Plume — which combines the symbol of a bird with the image of a track junction. Birds, known for their perceptiveness, serve as a strong symbol for rail-safety awareness.