Spreading the Rail Safety Message to Indigenous Communities across the Country

Operation Lifesaver is dedicated to promoting rail safety for all Canadians—and that includes Indigenous peoples. That’s why we are always looking for ways to spread our message to more communities across the country. Last week, Operation Lifesaver took a big step toward ensuring we reach more Indigenous Canadians in the future. We announced a new partnership with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) that will help us raise awareness about the dozens of Canadians that are killed or seriously injured each year because they put themselves in unsafe situations around railway tracks and trains. “Rail safety across our Indigenous communities, and in a country as vast and geographically challenging as Canada, is a huge but necessary task if it means saving lives,” says JP Gladu, CCAB’s President and CEO. “As a national organization, CCAB welcomes Operation Lifesaver as an important new member whose work is building safer communities.” There are approximately 45,000 km of railway tracks running across the country, and many of those go through Indigenous land. Operation Lifesaver is working hard to ensure those living on reserves, and in other Indigenous communities across the country, understand that when it comes to trains and tracks, caution is key—and that it saves lives.   Through CCAB, Operation Lifesaver has already formed partnerships with members like the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, which is helping to spread the rail safety message by donating airtime for Operation Lifesaver’s public service announcement.  We are also trying to reach more indigenous Canadians by taking part in events from coast to coast—events like the Kahnawake Pow Wow held earlier this month. It is the second year Operation Lifesaver has taken part in the two-day event on the Mohawk reserve across from Montreal. Our booth provided the 9,000+ participants with important educational material about how to stay safe around railway property. It also gave participants a chance to try one of our 3D virtual-reality videos—and experience what it feels like to be hit by a train while trespassing on railway tracks. About 20 trains pass through Kahnawake each day (both commuter and CP). Many residents risk their lives using the tracks along the Mercier Bridge—which connects the reserve with the Island of Montreal—as a shortcut. Operation Lifesaver’s goal is to educate those in communities like Kahnawake about how dangerous walking on railway tracks and bridges is—because we know increasing awareness saves lives. And we believe every life saved is a step in the right direction.