Fond du Lac starts campaign for kids' life jackets

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Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation hopes to gather 500 life jackets for children in the isolated community to help prevent tragedies while boating.

“A lot of our members travel by boat to get to Stoney Rapids and then drive from Stoney south,” said band councillor Colleen Whitedeer.

“It’s the only viable option of travelling in the summer because the airline is very pricey,” Whitedeer said.

This summer, Whitedeer says she’s seen children being transported in boats without life jackets and speculates it’s due to affordability.

She says people who can afford boats often have life jackets and people who get rides often don’t have life jackets.

“A life jacket is going to keep you afloat if a boat overturns, especially if you’re struck by objects in the boat and rendered unconscious,” says Parkland Ambulance Care Ltd. director of public affairs Lyle Karasiuk.

He says there is a difference between a life jacket and personal flotation devices. Life jackets are important for everyone.

“Look for one that has a big collar on it. That’s going to right them up and flip them around so that their face is out of the water, especially in the chaos of an overturned vessel.”

Fond du Lac is located at the northeast end of Lake Athabasca. About 900 band members live on reserve. The campaign’s goal is to collect 500 life jackets for children up to 18 years old.

People can donate money or new or gently used life jackets at Athabasca Basin Development in Saskatoon and in Prince Albert at Parkland Hall.

Whitedeer says the life jackets are also necessary when transporting youth to a culture camp this summer. Extra life jackets will be given to people in Black Lake and Wollaston Lake.