A Coquitlam city councillor has initiated an e-petition to get the federal government to establish March 1 as National Search and Rescue Day.
Coun. Teri Towner said the story of Coquitlam dog walker Annette Poitras being rescued after being lost and injured for three days in November 2017 hit her hard because Poitras went missing doing a normal activity.
She was struck by how rescue workers were willing to drop whatever they are doing – be it at work, at their kid’s birthday party, or sleeping – to perform rescues. Volunteers, she noted, are regularly recognized on the local, provincial and federal levels, but she believes search and rescue deserves something more.
“That’s a really special breed of volunteer,” said Towner. “The search and rescue folks are a different type that are worthy of distinction.”
The petition comes after British Columbia established March 2 as Search and Rescue Memorial Day to honour those who have lost their lives performing the service.
She launched the petition June 21 and a week later had 216 signatures. It closes on Oct. 19 and needs 500 signatures to proceed, said Towner.
Michael Coyle, manager of Coquitlam Search and Rescue, said “it’s a great idea” because he often gets comments from the community that they didn’t even know the organization existed.
“It’s a small way of recognizing the efforts and that is appreciated. It won’t make us work any harder. It’s not why we do it. Nobody gets in this for fame and fortune. But every small thing is appreciated in a way to promote search and rescue exists and that it’s staffed by volunteers,” said Coyle.
The petition is being sponsored by Liberal Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon.
“Search and Rescue personnel are unpaid volunteers, they undergo a lot of stress. It’s a very important service they provide,” said McKinnon.
“We will need to do some work as well to carry the issue forward with the government. The government does pay attention to petitions, but to have someone like myself to apply encouragement to carry the argument forward to the government (will help).”
To sign the petition go to petitions.ourcommons.ca and search for E-1759.