Aboriginal Rail Safety Poster Contest Results

OTTAWA - The results of the Direction 2006 "Look, Listen, & Live" 2002 railway safety poster contest are in.

Joe Wawatie, a grade 8 student from Mitchikanibikok Inik, Kitiganik-Rapid Lake, Quebec is the winner of the junior category and 10th graders Sasha Barry and Molli Zack from the Tuesday Night Youth Group at Garden River Health Centre, Garden River, Ontario are the winners of the senior category.

Wawatie is a member of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake tribe, while the two girls participated in the contest through their Tuesday night youth group held at the Garden River Health Centre.

In the junior category, the second place prize was awarded to Stella Polson, a grade 8 student at Kiwetin School in Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Quebec. Third prize went to seventh grader Shaun Starr of Pic River Elementary School in Heron Bay, Ontario. No second or third place prizes were awarded in the senior category.

The winner of each category received a prize of $300. Second place finishers received $200, while the third place prize was $100. The teacher or poster program coordinator of the first prize recipient also received $100 and the school or community submitting the winning entry received a prize of $200.

The contest invited young people in grades 7 to 12 in schools and community organizations in First Nations communities across Canada to design a poster reflecting the rules of railway safety. As well, winning entries may be used to create future railway posters that would be distributed to First Nations communities across Canada.

"The purpose of the contest is to help reduce the number of train-vehicle and train-pedestrian deaths and injuries among young people by educating them about the potential hazards of highway/railway crossings, along railway tracks, and by promoting railway safety," says Sgt. Bill Law, community services officer with Canadian Pacific Railway's Police Services and a member of Direction 2006's public education committee.

Direction 2006 is a joint initiative between government and industry to reduce train-pedestrian and train-vehicle collisions by 50 per cent by 2006, and to advance the work done by Operation Lifesaver -- a national public education program co-sponsored by the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada. OL volunteers and programs had reduced crossing collisions and trespasser incidents by 60 per cent over the previous 20 years.

Sgt. Law said the initiative focused on a specific audience, for specific reasons. A recent nation-wide Ispos-Reid internet poll among young Canadians showed that although 94 per cent of young Canadians say it's dangerous to walk or play on railway tracks, over half of them have done so. The poll also concluded that young people take too many risks at highway/railway crossings and along the tracks, that many cannot identify railway warning signs, that many misread the speed of trains, and that overall, they need a better understanding of personal risk.

"First Nations communities are often small communities," said sgt. Law. "Since many incidents involving trains and pedestrians, and between trains and vehicles happen in smaller communities, with young people as the victims, the First Nations communities are working hard with Direction 2006 and Operation Lifesaver to ensure that Native youth are aware of railways and their potential dangers. This is why the First Nations communities of Canada participated actively in the Look, Listen, & Live railway safety poster contest."

Contact Information:

Sgt. Bill Law
Direction 2006 Education

Dan Di Tota
Operation Lifesaver

Emilie Tobin
The Railway Association of Canada