A community movement and non-profit organization founded in 1984 in Quebec City by Jean-Marie De Koninck, a mathematician, professor at Laval University and sports analyst in swimming competition for CBC/Radio-Canada, OPERATION NEZ ROUGE/RED NOSE was originally created as a fundraising mean to finance the university’s swimming team; but it far exceeded his creator’s original expectations, bringing the participation of 45,000+ volunteers each year and offering its ride service to more than one million people since its start; it raises yearly more than one million Canadian dollars and re-distributes these donations to over 150 amateur sports organizations. Its service is offered in the province of Quebec, several other francophone countries, as well as other locations throughout Canada, using both the French or the English name as an identifier and trademark.
Who? What? Where? When? How? This year’s marks its 38th annual campaign. If you are not familiar with the service because it is not offered in your area (which is the case for Eastern Ontario residents), here are a few specifics: the service is an escorting service (not to be mistaken for ‘escort’ service…) which is offered to anyone who feels incapacitated due to alcohol or drug consumption, sick or unwell, and consequently unable to drive a motor vehicle safely. An aggressive advertising campaign using all media forms reminds everyone of the availability of the service when necessary, service which is available during the Christmas season; this year’s service will run from November 26th to December 31st. The operating costs for the season are covered by sponsors, in Quebec’s case, les Caisses Desjardins and la Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).
Volunteering is a sure way to spend an evening/night full of surprises, of awkward situations, of juicy anecdotes, all the while contributing at keeping our roads and fellowmen/women safe. Operation Red Nose thrives to offer its volunteers a rewarding experience while keeping everyone within the sanitary regulations imposed upon us all by Covid: wearing a mask, showing proof of vaccination and identification documents. The escort team consists of three volunteers: the ‘driver’ who uses his own car to drive the other two volunteers to the client’s location; the ‘designated driver’ drives the client home in his own car while the ‘navigator’ keeps the client entertained, collects donation and issues receipt.
Surprisingly, as listed on the official website operationnezrouge.com, only seven Canadian provinces/territories participate in the program; double the surprise, in Ontario, the only two regions who do are Quinte and Northumberland; triple the surprise, even our National Capital Ottawa discontinued its participation since 2016, although its benefits to a certain extent from the Gatineau service. In Eastern Ontario and more specifically our Hawkesbury/Champlain area, no service per se although our Quebec neighbors may extend their service here: the Saint-Jérôme district (450-432-6811) services Grenville, Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and other Argenteuil locations, while the Vaudreuil-Dorion district services locations up to Pointe-Fortune and the QC-ON border (450-424-4011). Being able to put together a group of dedicated volunteers AND a qualified administration is always a challenge in these times of the year (Christmas holidays, snowy and icy roads, …) and is obviously the main reason this program doesn’t have a local branch.
Although it is ‘THE’ season for celebrations, the season for sharing gifts, handshakes, hugs, exotic foods and DRINKS… Who’s counting? Maybe you stopped counting, or never did keep count, or were in a state where you were unable to correlate numbers and intoxication… But the police will if they pull you over and crash your festivities. It can prove to be a very costly decision: why risk it? Call a relative, a friend, a taxi service (two reliable companies service Hawkesbury and area). And take care of your liver: you only have one!