World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, November 2016

For a grieving person, a survivor mission must include the opportunity for emotional highs. Probably our most potent activist moment occurred on the 2016 World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

Lori Mooren and I held a media conference at the Mt. Warning Hotel in Uki near the crash site to raise awareness that three people (actually, four people but we did not know that then) had died there, and still no repairs had been made. In our meeting was a local woman who had been driving the second vehicle involved in fatal Bevelander crash.

Weeping, she told us how five Aboriginal children were nearly killed in that crash.

Later, we attached a huge poster with a photo of Karl to a tree near the crash site. It read, “My name is Karl. I died here. Please slow down.”

My name is Karl

I got that idea came from reading about roadside shrines or Roadside Death Memorials (RDMs) (also called wayside shrines) in France and other countries, including Canada. They are seen as valuable ways to express grief: a healthy part of the grieving system outside the accepted order of funeral parlours and conventional rituals. To highlight the dangers of that stretch of road, we wanted to erect a permanent sign with a photo of Karl on it, but it was not permitted.

I made another impassioned speech to camera by the roadside, begging the municipality to use more sophisticated road planning approaches.

Lots of tears and laughter in a long afternoon celebrating with local friends on the verandah of Uki’s Mt Warning Hotel honoured Karl’s unique approach to activism, his Giveaway, in a manner that certainly would have met his approval.

The good news is that our activism succeeded. The road has been repaired.

Sources

Belshaw, J. and D. Purvey, 2009, Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia.

See New South Wales, Department of Roads and Maritime Services, 2016, Roadside Tributes: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/roads/using-roads/roadside-tributes-factsheet.pdf

A video by Nicholas Curthoys of our November 2016 media event, speeches and erecting our poster on the tree, is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyI5jNqqYdE

 

 

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