If Vicki Renwick gets only one person to not drive impaired, it’s worth it.
Renwick lost her daughter Taylor to an impaired driver Oct. 9, 2015. Taylor, 20, was on her way to the family home near Napinka – about 90 kilometres southwest of Brandon – for Thanksgiving when her car was struck head-on by a minivan that swerved into coming traffic to pass a semi-truck on Hwy. 2, about two kilometres east of St. Claude. The minivan was fleeing the RCMP, although the RCMP had abandoned their chase because of the van’s “excessive speed,” which approached 150 km/h. Taylor died on impact.
“I lost my daughter seven years ago,” Renwick says. “Every day is rough.”
In memory of Taylor, Vicki recently asked Rural Operations Director Cyril Patterson if it would be okay if Manitoba Hydro fleet vehicles in Virden displayed a red ribbon to mark Project Red Ribbon, MADD Canada’s largest awareness campaign held annually Nov. 1 to Jan. 3, the time of year when the risk for impaired driving is higher. MADD says the red ribbon is a symbol of the wearer’s commitment to never drive impaired and keeps the sober driving message top of mind for all who see it.
Patterson said yes, but why stop at only Virden? Let’s get all of Manitoba Hydro’s rural Customer Service Centres involved. And all Customer Service Centres in Winnipeg, too.
“My life has never been impacted by the way Vicki’s has,” Patterson says. “But we see and hear about the outcomes of impaired driving all the time. So, this is the least I can do – to encourage people to make good decisions.”
With Manitoba Hydro’s Operations business unit committed to display the red ribbon on its fleet, an invitation was extended for other business units in the utility to do the same. Red ribbons are not only available for each fleet vehicle – there are approximately 3,000 – but also available to employees for their personal vehicles. It’s the first time Manitoba Hydro has participated in the red ribbon campaign.
“My heart was pumping when I found out what Hydro was doing,” Renwick says. “It’s beyond what I ever expected.
“If we can get just one person to not get behind the wheel and drive impaired, then it’s all been worth it.”
MADD Canada National President Jaymie-Lyne Hancock said the charitable organization welcomes Manitoba Hydro’s participation in this year’s campaign
“Thanks to Vicki’s initiative, and to this incredible support from Manitoba Hydro and its employees, our sober driving message will be amplified throughout the province all holiday season long,” she says.
MADD Canada spokesperson Deb Kelly says various Canadian municipal police services, fire departments, and smaller companies with fleet vehicles also display red ribbons during the campaign. Manitoba Hydro is the first Canadian utility to participate.
“In Prince Edward Island, we have had all police services and fire departments across the province come together to put the ribbons on all their vehicles,” she says. “And we have one large oil company in the Atlantic Region that is a sponsor of the Project Red Ribbon campaign and puts a version of the red ribbon on their oil tankers. The Government of Yukon has put the ribbons on all their fleet vehicles, as has Alberta Transportation. But we have not had any other Canadians utilities do this.”
Renwick says she learned of Project Red Ribbon when she attended a MADD conference in 2019. After meeting so many families who had lost loved ones from impaired driving, she joined MADD to do her part to put a stop to this 100% preventable crime.
“There are too many people who go to these conferences,” she says. “Taylor is always with me and I’m getting to a place that when I think of Taylor, I think of the good things, not the way she died. But it’s hard to get to that place.
“I can’t thank Manitoba Hydro and the support of everyone enough. I think Taylor would hate all the attention, but at the same time if my story is going to benefit people, I’ll tell them about Taylor and what she meant to us.”
To support Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), please visit their website.