Five individuals, six organizations and one municipality were honoured during the Canadian Safe Boating Council’s (CSBC) annual CASBAs awards gala at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, Ontario on January 22.
The CSBC, which promotes safe boating practices across the country, recognized the efforts of the general public, volunteers, professionals, companies, agencies and organizations that have distinguished themselves in the fields of boating safety and environmental stewardship during the 2016 boating season.
2016 CASBA award recipients include:
Top Volunteer Dedicated to Boating Safety: Ben Sewell
The RCMP’s Sergeant Ben Sewell of Thompson Manitoba. Thompson serves with the Major Crimes unit, but is being recognized for his off-duty community work. The 16-year RCMP veteran teaches kayaking to local area residents for free, volunteering his time and energy at community pools where he offers instruction.
Along with his friend, Paul Whissel, the duo have created three types of programs that educate and prepare the public on how to exercise safety and deal with challenges they may encounter. This includes instruction such as navigating rapids, righting a kayak and how to deploy a rescue bag to a person in the water. Sewell also advocates helmet and lifejacket wear. His program even contributes to a credit for Grade 10 students who take the Outdoor Education program at a local high school.
Safeguarding the Environment: SOS Distress Light
It’s estimated that approximately two million marine flares expire each year and only a fraction are disposed of in a proper fashion.
The SOS Distress Light, a legal replacement for flares in the US, has no such environmental impact and lasts 60 hours on three C-cell batteries. Transport Canada has not yet followed suit, so Canadians must continue to carry flares.
The distress light was invented by Sirius Signal, and is manufactured and distributed by Weems and Plath.
Marine Professional of the Year: Constable William Scott of the OPP
Constable William Scott joined the OPP in 1989. Within two years, he became part of the OPP’s dive team, serving from 1989 to 1996. He came to the realization after this period that he wanted to do more to help prevent on-water tragedies.
Currently he serves with the Essex County OPP Marine Unit on the Detroit River and Lake Erie. For Scott, job goes beyond writing tickets. Rather, he rewards kids who are found wearing their lifejackets with a Fox 40 whistle as well as provides instruction to novice boaters. He also serves as an instructor, teaching the basic and launch operator courses to fellow officers. In November of 2016, Scott and his partner James Lyman received an award after rescuing 12 people on Lake Erie this past summer after their vessel began taking on water.
In his spare time, Scott is also a volunteer firefighter with the Amherstburg Fire, where he assists with training.
Media Contribution to Boating Safety: Mark King, writer
Mark King of Gananoque, Ontario, has been writing a regular safety column since 1999, entitled ‘Lifeline’.
His career as a journalist has included writing for local newspapers, publishing OMOA’s (now Boating Ontario) magazine, producing the Toronto Boat Show newsletter as well as assisting to create the Safe Boater PCOC Training program.
King has strived to make marine topics interesting over the years, completing over 107 columns for Lifeline since it was first launched.
Special Recognition Award: Doreen Hinksman, CPS-ECP volunteer
Doreen Hinksman has provided 52 years of volunteer service to the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, promoting boating safety. She is a Past Chief Commander of CPS-ECP from 1997 to 1999 and the only woman to achieve this role in Canada.
Over the years, Hinksman has earned over 40 Merit Marks with CPS. She first joined the squadron in 1963 and was immediately interested in taking on a leadership role. She was instrumental in advocating for women’s rights within the organization and eventually became the first woman on the CPS Executive committee, serving as National Secretary in 1991. In 1993, she was appointed the National Administrative Office. In 1995, she was named National Executive Office. By 1997, she was the first woman appointed as Chief – the only to date.
Hinksman has chaired the CPS National Conference for seven years, led the strategic planning process and conducts orientation sessions for all new District Commanders.
In the late 1980s, she set up the Boatwise program for youths. In 2016, she earned the Joe Gatfield Leadership Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership on behalf of CPS-ECP.
Best Boating Safety Initiative: Red Cross Project VFI, Project Personal Flotation Device
Red Cross’ Project VFI, Project Personal Flotation Device is an initiative in Quebec to educate the public about the importance of lifejacket wear.
The project, targeted at men between 30 to 65 years of age began at Saguenany-Lac-Saint-Jean in 2011. It focused on working with managers of fishing zones, outfitters, hunting/fishing clubs and private marina managers to distribute promotional tools such as keychains and whistles.
In 2015 the Red Cross expanded the program to reach new areas, such as Abitibi Temiscamingue, Mauricie and Center du Quebec. The program also grew to add a provincial coordinator and six outreach staff. With a boost in manpower, the group started attending fishing tournaments, with impressive results. Since 2011, the VFI has reached over 60 thousand boaters.
Marine Industry Award: Maplelea
Not awarded last year, the Marine Industry Award went to Maplelea this year, a company that offers a high-quality line of Canadian themed dolls reflecting regional culture and geography.
Maplelea’s Charlsea doll from Saltspring Island, BC features a kayak complete with lifejacket and float plan. Charlsea also has a journal that outlines the difference between a lifejacket and PFD. CSBC recognizes Maplelea for helping to ‘normalize’ lifejacket wear among Canada’s impressionable girls.
Also noteworthy, Maplelea’s ‘Jenna from Lunenberg’ doll also features a lifejacket for sailing.
Visible PFD Wear in Advertising: Princecraft Boats
Over the years, Princeville, Quebec-based Princecraft Boats has made a concerted effort to include lifejackets in its advertising and lifestyle photography. Although not fashionable in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Princecraft ads feature visible PFD aboard its vessels. Presently, lifejacket wear is ingrained in all of the aluminum boat builder’s promotional materials.
Dominating boat sales several regions of Canada, it’s estimated that four out of 10 boats sold in Quebec are Princecrafts. For pontoons, that number jumps to six out of 10 in the same province. Across Canada, the company estimates that 1.2 out of 10 boat purchases are one of their models, and one out of four for pontoons.
Special Recognition Award: District of Tofino
Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino is home to approximately 2,000 residents but attracts almost one million annual visitors.
On October 25, 2015, the Leviathan II left Tofino with a group of 24 tourists and three crew for a whale-watching tour. A large wave rocked and capsized the vessel 45 minutes away from Tofino. Members of the ship’s crew, local fishermen, and members of the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-ahtshy communities responded, saving 21 people.
The Tofino community set up an area where the survivors could warm up and deal with the traumatic experience. Local businesses and community members outpoured their support, providing food and groceries as well as blankets and portable heaters. Local locksmiths helped survivors to get back into their vehicles for those who lost their keys.
Pacific Rim Hospice Society provided volunteers for grief counselling and coordinated the arrival of additional counsellors from other provinces.
Stearns Rescue of the Year: Dan Peters, OPP Staff Sergeant
Richard Lusklett and his 12-year-old son, Alex, were out for a canoe trip on Lake Superior’s Black Bay in June. The weather changed suddenly and a wave knocked over and swamped their canoe, losing their cell phone and gear as well as trapping them on the rough waters. Fortunately, both were wearing lifejackets and has left Richard’s wife, Angela, with their trip details. Richard and Alex were a half kilometre from shore holding onto the swamped canoe, trying maintain their position in deteriorating weather conditions.
After not showing up at their arranged return time, Angela became worried and reported them missing to a local fisherman. After the fisherman couldn’t find them, she contacted the OPP. Trenton dispatched a Hercules to search the area.
Angela knew Dan Peters of the OPP, who had a camp in the area. Peters left immediately to join the search.
Suffering from hypothermia, Richard and Alex continued to fight waves that continuously capsized the canoe again and again. After about five hours, the duo spotted the search boat Peters was aboard, waving their arms to signal for help.
In five-foot waves, Peters managed to recover Alex and Richard from the frigid waters. He contacted Angela and instructed her to prepare blankets. After a 20-minute trip back to shore, Peters and Lusklett family members prepared Alex and Richard for transport to Thunder Bay Hospital. Richard’s core temperature was only 32 degrees, even after being out of the water for three hours. Both father and son fortunately survived thanks to the fast action and clear thinking of Dan Peters.
The CSBC is a registered charity, and its members and partners from all areas of the marine community include boat and marine product manufacturers, boating education organizations, water safety and marine law enforcement sectors.