Sirens wailed, horns blared and a horde of cyclists hit the streets of Rankin Inlet on the afternoon of Aug. 10 to learn about bike safety.
Led by fire trucks and accompanied by members of the RCMP, military and employees from Public Health, children and youth of all ages wound their way from Victor’s Playground to the public health building.
The public health department has held such safety rallies in the past, said organizer and community health representative Joanne Quinangnaq, but never before has it been so big or attracted so many enthusiastic participants.
“This is the first time we made it a big event. The turnout was amazing – I couldn’t believe it,” she said .
“We were expecting 50 kids … but there were over 100 who came out.”
Quinangnaq and summer student Kayla Bruce, who helped to organize the afternoon, walked with the participants to the public health building, where they split off into three groups.
RCMP officers joined each group for some one-on-one time with the children, inspecting bicycles and starting conversations about how to be a safe cyclist.
Cpl. Braden Stephenson walked the children through different steps of inspecting their bikes, testing the handlebars and checking to see if bikes had working brakes.
Following the bike inspections, Stephenson supervised an obstacle course, set up with the help of Rankin Inlet fire department members who laid out tires along a stretch of dirt next to the public health building.
Stephenson directed children to weave their way through the track.
Children also got a lesson in proper helmet-fitting from Bruce, who showed them three steps to ensuring their helmets were on properly.
Although not all the children had bikes or helmets, it was still important for them to learn about safety, Bruce said.
“We want to say thank you even to those without bikes or helmets,” she said.
Quinangnaq said the goal of the rally was education.
“We wanted to educate them about the helmets and road safety because Rankin is so big and there are a lot of kids riding bikes without helmets,” she said.
“It’s very important for them to wear their helmets and know the rules of the road, and road safety.”
The rally wrapped up with certificates of participation and a draw for three bikes.
Quinangnaq said that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the fire department, which she had contacted to help secure donations.
The winners of the bikes were Casey Tiktaq, Ian Kappi Anawak and Mona Kolit.