Twenty-two people have lost their lives in the waters of Junction Creek.
Since the death of Adam Dickie in 2007, there haven't been any more lives lost. And that's the goal of the Fast Flowing Water initiative — to keep the number at 22.
Grade 8 École Felix Ricard student Joel Guenette will have a helping hand in reminding Sudburians of all ages, but especially children, that “Where Fast Waters Flow, Do Not Go! Danger!”
Guenette was the overall winner of this year's Fast Flowing Water poster contest. His poster will adorn two billboards throughout the city, as part of Petryna Advertising's commitment to the campaign.
“I just wanted to put lots of colour in the poster,” he said. “(The Fast Flowing Water campaign) is something we learn about in school. I was really surprised when I won, because there were a lot of people who made posters.”
It was following Adam's death in Junction Creek that the Junction Creek Safety Committee was established to review conditions around fast-flowing water and make recommendations to prevent drowning.
The committee launched its education initiative in area schools to establish what they call a “psychological fence” in the minds of youth. Committee members hope this fence will make youth think twice about playing near fast-flowing waters, said committee chair Joscelyne Landry-Altmann.
Having successfully implemented the program in all Sudbury school boards, the aim is to have it adopted not only across the province, but to have it in every school in Canada.
“The ultimate goal is to have it across Canada,” Landry-Altman said. “We're focusing on Ontario for now, though. We are now going to recontact the minister of education following the provincial election. We were given direction through that ministry to go through the directors of every school board in Ontario, and we're going to do that. It's a big job, but we're up to it.”
To accommodate as many students as possible, the program is available in French, English and Ojibway.
Adam's grandfather, Ray Croteau, said it seems the educational component with students is working.
“Before Adam died seven years ago, it wasn't there,” Croteau said. “Now, the kids who are the same age as Adam when he died are picking up on it.
“I know it's not a good thing, but at least Adam's death has served a purpose. He didn't die in vain. We're accomplishing something, and I'm very proud of that. It's a difficult reminder every year, but it's saving lives, and we feel good about it.”
Had this program been in place seven years ago, perhaps Adam would still be alive today, he said.
“We reflect every year about what he could have been doing if he were still with us,” he said. “All we can hope for is that kids today will use the what-if factor, and think twice about going near fast-flowing waters.”
The Junction Creek Safety Committee will play host to a creek-side chat in July.
“We are inviting kids from the Louis Street area, where the accident took place, to show them how dangerous it can be near the shores. They need to realize the dangers that are there,” Croteau said.
This marked the sixth year for the poster contest. This was the first year the committee incorporated a story board component to the contest, where the school with the winning story board will be featured in public-service announcements warning of the dangers of fast-flowing water. It will also be aired during Cinéfest.
Grade 4 Cyril Varney Public School students Seth Marlok, Adam Jordan, Samir Chaudhary and Austin Desrochers were named video contest winners.
The remaining poster contest winners were:
Grade 4: Mikayla Lloyd, Cyril Varney Public School;
Grade 5: Zoe Duhaime, St. Anne Catholic School;
Grade 6: Selina Rebellato, Churchill Public School;
Grade 7: Kelly Mazerolle, St. Anne Catholic School.