Location set for monument to honour P.E.I.'s impaired driving victims

Prince Edward Island is the only Atlantic province without a Mothers Against Drunk Driving provincial monument commemorating the victims of impaired driving, but that's set to change this year.

Steve Sullivan, the CEO of MADD Canada, said the monument's design has been finalized and a location — behind Government House, the lieutenant-governor's residence — has been secured.

Now all the organization needs is someone to build it.

"Our goal is to have a provincial monument in every province, and eventually in every territory as well. And P.E.I. has taken longer than we would have liked," Sullivan said.

"Our original plan was we were going to work with the city, but that fell through, and now we're fortunate to be able to work with the province."

The monument's location will be off Terry Fox Drive, across from Goverer's Pond.
The monument's location will be off Terry Fox Drive, across from Governor's Pond. (MADD Canada)

The hope is to unveil the monument by the end of September at the planned location will be close to Governor's Pond, off Terry Fox Drive.

The organization began looking for land donations for the monument in the Charlottetown area back in 2017.

MADD installed similar monuments in Ontario in 2023, and one in Quebec in 2022. British Colombia has no monument yet, but Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba do.

A reminder of the human cost

Each monument is intended to be an educational piece, a reminder to the public that every victim of impaired driving left behind family and friends who miss them.

MADD Canada started by installing monuments in funeral home settings, but wanted them to be more visible.

"We thought that if we were able to move them into public spaces, it not only remained an important place for families to go and reflect and to know that their loved ones have not been forgotten," Sullivan said.

"But they also now act as a reminder to the public, and an educational piece, that there are human costs to decisions that people make when they drive impaired."

Names of victims of impaired driving appear on the monument, shaped like a large sundial.
The MADD monument in Saskatoon, Sask., was unveiled in May 2019. (CBC)

Sullivan said the monument unveilings are always emotional ceremonies.

"It's a promise we make to families that we'll never forget their loved ones.... Especially for that first time people see their loved one's name, it can be very emotional," Sullivan said. "I'm thinking of when we did Saskatchewan's monument, it was raining, it was cold, people lined up just to go up and touch their loved one's name on the monument.

"Every time someone makes a decision to drive impaired, potentially a new name could be added to that monument."

'One is too many'

Karen Clinton, president of MADD Canada's Charlottetown and Eastern P.E.I. chapter, said these monuments are an important reminder of the problem of impaired driving.

"When it comes to numbers, one is too many. If we can reduce the numbers that are on the Island currently by any at all and prevent any injuries or deaths, that's our goal, that's our mission," Clinton said. "We want to make sure that everyone's safe, and everyone gets to spend the time with their families that they deserve."

Sullivan said the public can request names to be added to the monument until the beginning of August. Each year, any new victims' names will be added.

The criteria for inclusion is that the name should be of a person who was killed, and that there was evidence an impaired driver was involved. Impaired drivers who died in their own crashes or collisions are not eligible.