The world of anti-impaired driving activism is a tumultuous one. We hear about debates, calls for legislation, expressions of outrage and anger from victims and their advocates.
Once in a while – once a year, in fact – comes a time for quiet tribute. In Canada, that’s the National Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Remembrance.
Taking place at the end of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada’s National Conference for Victims of Impaired Driving, the Vigil is a chance to remember the many – too many – people who have been killed or injured by impaired drivers in Canada.
MADD is well known for its advocacy of strong anti-impaired driving legislation, including ignition interlock laws and graduated licensing. Their education and awareness programs have a prominent place in the nation’s schools. But another vital part of MADD Canada’s mission is to support victims through workshops, volunteers, and outreach.
Angeliki Souranis, National President of MADD Canada, lost a son in an impairment-related crash. “When I walked into MADD five years ago, I felt I was coming home. We’re such outsiders in our everyday lives, we’ve suffered these losses, and people may not know how to relate to us, but when you walk in, everyone knows how you’re feeling.” The conference and the Vigil provide an environment of comfort and understanding for victims.
The Vigil is the culmination of the National Conference, which offers workshops for victims and survivors of impaired driving collisions. The delegates, all victims or survivors, either belong to a MADD chapter, or have their names put forth by a chapter.
The Vigil is a moving ceremony in which candles are lighted, the names of victims are spoken, and loved ones remembered and commemorated for what they brought to the lives of others.
At the Conference MADD national staff and professionals in a variety of fields lead workshops designed to help victims, friends and families cope with the devastating aftermath of tragic impaired driving incidents. “They’re dealing with anger, grief, spirituality, they’re negotiating the legal system. They also need to take care of themselves,” says Souranis. “We negotiate the living world every day. Just being in a room with people who know what we mean, those sleepless nights, days on end of tears — people here get that.”
This year’s keynote and workshop sessions will include sessions on the criminal justice system, civil law and settlements, and victim’s rights in Canada. There will also be sessions on surviving adversity and loss and coping with anger, and separate activities designed to help young victims of impaired driving, those aged 15 – 25.
Part of MADD Canada’s mission is to usher in the day when there will be no more victims. Until that time, they will also be there for those who have endured injury and loss from this preventable crime.
Guests are welcome to attend the MADD Candlelight Vigil but are asked to RSVP to Ardene Vicioso at [email protected], as space will be limited. (Please note: individuals who are already registered to attend the full national Conference do not need to RSVP for the Vigil.)
For more information about the National Conference for Victims and the Candlelight Vigil visit the MADD Canada Website.
MADD Canada’s National Conference for Victims of Impaired Driving
Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Remembrance
April 23, 2016
BMO Financial Group Institute for Learning
3550 Pharmacy Ave