When Kim Thomas put out the call for pairs of old shoes for her Empty Shoes campaign, she had set a target of 1,825 pairs and they started to trickle in. You could say it’s now a full-fledged flood.

Shoes have been arriving from across Canada and parts of the US and Thomas will easily surpass her goal to collect for the shoes as part of this Saturday’s Empty Shoes campaign at Mitford Park.

The shoes will be front and centre in an Empty Shoes awareness event being staged park that runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a peaceful gather to send a strong message to the government to get serious about establishing a minimum mandatory sentence of five years for people convicted of impaired driving causing death.

The location has been changed to Cochrane because of the overwhelming response. It was originally scheduled to be held at the Calgary Courthouse but it became too large and Thomas was concerned about safety. An effort to have it located to a park in Calgary was unsuccessful because an application has to be made eight weeks in advance.

The event is being held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and Thomas will be speaking at 1 p.m. Other speakers have also been invited. There is the opportunity to sign a petition organized by the group Families for Justice. The petition, which has some 63,000 signatures so far, is to lobby the feds for a minimum mandatory sentence of five years for people convicted of impaired driving causing death.

 “We want accountability,” said Thomas. “People need to realize this is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada.”

Kim’s 17-year-old son Brandon was killed in a crash at the hands of drunk driver Ryan Gibson in December 2012 and she has since been pushing for tougher sentences so others won’t have to suffer her family’s agony.

“We want people to realize this is a huge issue and we want to change it for everyone else,” said Thomas. “We can’t change it for us, but we don’t want people to go through what we did.”
 People are paying attention and, judging by the volume of shoes arriving, they agree. Thomas already had 1,104 pairs in her garage on Monday and many more are en route. Beyond drop-off locations in Cochrane and Calgary, students at a Canmore school are collecting shoes. A truck is arriving with a large load of shoes from Saskatchewan on Thursday. Both Front Runner Footwear and Value Village in Prince Albert, SK are collecting shoes.

“We’re also getting shoes from P.E.I., Ontario and even some from the States,” said Thomas. “Boxes of shoes have been couriered…. there has been overwhelming support.”

The 1,825 pairs of shoes represent the number of people killed each year in Canada by impaired driving. There is an average of five deaths per day.

The additional shoes will be placed in piles to press home the point, ‘Who’s next?’

Source: The Cochrane Times


Last updated on: 2014-06-17 | Link to this post