My name is Julie. I wanted to take this first entry to explain what this site is about and why I set it up (okay, I asked my lovely husband to set it up for me) . Like most Canadians, I was living my life, raising my 2 daughters, Hannah and Grace, driving them to school, dance, music, theatre rehearsals. All of the normal day to day things that we all do each and every day. Until the evening of October 21, 2010. Then our world exploded in a violent and brutal crash. Grace and I were t-boned by a Drunk Driver (I choose not to use Impaired, but I will explain that another day). 5 days later, I woke up from a coma to be told that my daughter Grace would not wake up from her injuries. My daughter was going to die from her injuries and nothing could be done. Grace was a fun loving, bright 11 year old.
I have been trying to figure out how to make people realize how bad it really is and just how many people are victims of this violent crime (and frankly of the court system – but again- another blog, another day) . The truth of the matter is that it is not just those of us that were hit by the Drunk Drivers that are the victims but every single person that loved/loves the physical victim. My daughter, Hannah is a victim of this crime. My husband (Grace’s father ) is a victim of this crime. Gracie’s four grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, school friends, dance friends, theatre buddies, school teachers, dance teachers, friends’ parents, community members are all victims of this crime. For each physical victim, there are hundreds of others that are victims of this crime.
I want to give us all a voice. I was trying to think of some way to make an impact, like the AIDS quilt. I remember when they started to unfold that big quilt to show how many victims there were. I finally realized what it should be when I was going through Gracie’s room last year. In Grade 5, her friends had decorated her shoes – kind of like signing a year book. A simple pair of white canvas shoes decorated in markers with drawings and names. A pair of shoes that no one will ever wear again. A pair of empty shoes that sits on her shelf in her room.
My plan is to collect one pair of shoes to represent each victim of an Impaired Driver in Canada this year. That means that I need to collect 1825-2190 pairs of shoes (between 5-6 innocent victims each day). 20% of those are thought to be children under the age of 16 years old (World Health Organization statistic). In order to collect 2190 pairs of shoes, I need your help. I need people to look in their closets for any footwear that they want to clean out and donate to The Empty Shoes Project. I am accepting any footwear…men’s, women’s, children’s shoes, skates, slippers, workboots, flip flops, running shoes, stilettos (you get the picture), in any condition. I will be re-donating any shoes which are in good enough conditions after they are displayed (in Ottawa and Kitchener). If they are not in good enough condition to be re-donated, I will dispose of them.
I am currently waiting on a Protest Permit for Parliament Hill in Ottawa for October 21, 2014. That will be the 4th anniversary of the day that an Impaired Driver CHOSE to drive home in his truck and crashed into our car and exposed me to the extent of this crime in Canada.
I am hoping that Members of Parliament will get a very clear picture of the statistics when there are over 2000 pairs of shoes in front of them that should have people in them. I am hoping that this will encourage them to get serious about changing the laws surrounding Impaired Driving Causing Death/Bodily Harm so that more than 22% of cases will be prosecuted and so that the sentencing will be more consistent and hopefully longer than 3 years for multiple deaths. Canada is one of the last countries in the world to take this crime seriously even though it Impaired Drivers kill 3-4 times more Canadians than all other forms of Homicide combined.
I am hoping to stop this crime before anyone else has to find out the devastation that it leaves in its’ wake the same way that my family did.
Thank you all for being so patient. I have a shipping address ( Thank you Lori). My sister volunteered to accept them at her office – she was away and I didn’t want to post it without voluntelling her first (yes, volunteering – although she offered when I mentioned it). The address is:
The Empty Shoes Project
c/o The Storage Place
381 Clyde Road
Please do not send anything sentimental that you would want back. I can’t guarantee that I can do that and I don’t want to be one more person to disappoint you.
Thank you again for all of your support. Now, please send me shoes. (I don’t know of a symbol for a person on their knees begging or else I’d use it here). I would appreciate it if you could have the shoes to me by October 15th just to give me time to get organized and if you could let me know how many are coming. Maybe even pictures. I am trying to figure out how to get them on the website.