Families of people who were killed by drunk drivers set up more than 1,800 pairs of shoes outside Surrey provincial court on Saturday in an effort to remind the rest of us not to drink before we get behind the wheel.
Each pair of shoes represented people who have been killed here in Canada. A sign poking out of a small hill of shoes that were separated from the rest carried the ominous question, "Who's Next?"
The event, staged by Families For Justice, was called "Remembering Someone Special" and it's intent was to give people a poignant visual reminder, in the weeks before the Christmas holidays, of the damage drinking and driving does.
"We think it was a huge success," Victor Kaulius said of the campaign. "It was about awareness for Christmas. It's a really big thing to get that message out."
Kaulius said it'll hopefully reach some people and make them think twice "before they do something stupid."
His daughter Kassandra, 22, was killed by a drunk driver in Surrey in 2011. The woman who pleaded guilty to drinking and driving in connection with her death will be sentenced in mid-December.
Many families who lost loved ones stood amongst the shoes, holding a picture of the person killed.
Last year 1,074 people were killed by impaired drivers in Canada last year and more than 63,000 people were injured as a result of impaired driving.
Families for Justice has to date collected more than 17,000 signatures on a petition that calls on the federal government to make tougher laws against drunk driving, and the courts to deliver stiffer sentences.
Kassandra's mom, Markita Kaulius, spoke outside the courthouse.
"We stand here today as families and friends who have lost a very special someone in our lives because another person made the choice to drink and drive while impaired," she said. "Every one of these pairs of shoes you see laying here before you represents a daughter, a son, a brother, a sister, an uncle, an aunt, a husband, a wife, a grandparent, a cousin, a best friend, a co-worker, a grandchild, someone's loved one lost to an impaired driver."
Kaulius said each pair of shoes "represents the loss of someone who was pursuing their hopes and dreams, someone who should have had their future, and someone who can never ever be replaced."
She noted that over the last two years in B.C. police have issued 38,413 roadside suspensions to drivers who were putting the public at risk.
"Think before you drink," she urged. "Please have a plan in place before you take that first drink."
This could involve selecting a designated driver, or calling a friend, a cab or Operation Red Nose.
The numbers for Operation Red Nose are 604-532-0888 in Surrey and 604-943-0460 in Delta.
"Please remember those empty shoes as you gather together with family and friends over the holiday season," Markita Kaulius said. "Impaired driving affects an entire community. Everyone deserves the right to get home safely to family and friends."