Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik January 05, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Holiday passenger pick-up service sees biggest year in Nunavik community

Nez Rouge volunteers picked up 1,500 passengers over 12-day holiday season

Nez Rouge volunteer driver Kevin Dulong takes a selfie with his biggest carload over the holidays, when he picked up 14 passengers to transport in a Ford Explorer. This was Nez Rouge’s fifth year running in Puvirnituq. (PHOTO BY K. DULONG)
Nez Rouge volunteer driver Kevin Dulong takes a selfie with his biggest carload over the holidays, when he picked up 14 passengers to transport in a Ford Explorer. This was Nez Rouge’s fifth year running in Puvirnituq. (PHOTO BY K. DULONG)
As Puvirnituq, population 1,800, grows in size, the community becomes harder to traverse on foot. A holiday passenger service picked up 1,500 Puvirniturmiut over the Christmas season. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
As Puvirnituq, population 1,800, grows in size, the community becomes harder to traverse on foot. A holiday passenger service picked up 1,500 Puvirniturmiut over the Christmas season. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

A volunteer-run passenger pick-up service ran its fifth and biggest year in the Nunavik community of Puvirnituq over the holiday season.

From Dec. 23 through until Jan. 3, volunteers with Puvirnituq’s addictions support organization Isaruit and the local Inuulitisivik health centre were on call to pick up passengers who needed rides to and from holiday celebrations in the sprawling village of about 1,800 people.

Over that 12-day period, volunteers transported a record 1,500 people to and from events.

The program is based on Opération Nez Rouge (Operation Red Nose), a southern Quebec-based program that transports drivers who have had too much to drink.

But in Puvirnituq, the service offered a lift to anyone who needed one.

“What we saw a lot of this year was families with children, travelling to visit family at the other end of the village,” said Kevin Dulong, a nurse at Puvirnituq’s Inuulitsivik health centre and Nez Rouge volunteer.

Nez Rouge came at a good time, while an extreme cold settled along the Hudson coast. The municipally run public transit system had also been out of service, since its bus broke down last month.

With no commercial taxi service in town, that means residents who don’t have their own vehicles have no other form of transportation.

The Northern Village donated a Ford Explorer to serve as Nez Rouge’s vehicle this year, which operated each night from about 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

About 20 volunteers, working in pairs, took turns doing the rounds.

“At one point, we had 14 passengers,” Dulong recalled on a busy night, Dec. 30, when he and his volunteer partner picked up a group of children en route to the community hall, which was hosting holiday activities.

Nez Rouge first launched in southern Quebec in 1984 to offer impaired drivers a safe ride home. The program now draws an annual volunteer base of 55,000, who pick up some 76,000 passengers every holiday season.

Puvirnituq is one of two communities where the local co-op store sells beer and wine.

Though the community has opted to close alcohol sales over the holiday season in years past, the co-op maintained sales this past year.

While Nez Rouge offers an important service to Puvirturmiut who are impaired, Dulong said the Hudson coast community could use a reliable transit service in general, especially during special events like hockey tournaments and festivals.

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by The red nose reindeer on January 05, 2018

That’s great. The change might be coming for the betterment. Drinking and driving will be no more. But, this services in Puvirnituq during the holidays is not really measurable for the the number of potentially intoxicated party goers served. Unless those 1500, out of a population of 1800 were the number of possible drunks. I think it’s great to drive families and children who have no transportation, but what are we really saying about core objectives of the red nose service. The rides giving to the community as a whole as nice as it is, confuses the reindeer.

#2. Posted by come on on January 06, 2018

Come on give us a break, photos from the selfie are evident children were not fitting the criteria of this programs’ purpose, they don’t seem to be intoxicated or were they not ? The numbers do not match , Puvirniumiut have snowmobiles , 4 wheelers, & vehicles but 1,500 is too much exaggerated to be picked by Nez rouge. Maybe the drivers were on “sick - leave ” when they are healthier than every body.

#3. Posted by Numbers don't add up on January 06, 2018

Numbers don’t add up, we are not stupid !!!! come up with an honest number, 1,500 within 10 days would indicate most of Puvirnitumiut have no form of transportation. A lot of people walk as the community centre is not far. Stop the bulls###t

#4. Posted by Had fun on holidays on January 06, 2018

This is to help others and have “FUN” for holidays and reduce drinking and drive. Thanks for the people who were volunteering

#5. Posted by Oh my on January 06, 2018

To clarify the numbers, riders can take Nez Rouges back and forth, which means the same person can take it twice, also the same revelers can take it several times during the 10day period, therefore there are not Necessarily 1500 different riders, also I would like to add that with the help of the CNV, YP,Isaruit and Promotion and Prevention Nez Rouges costs around 1500$,what would be the point of doubting the veracity of the stats, it is about solidarity, empathy sharing and a local response to a lack of services, it does mot pretend to address larger systemic issues, 2 people were found asleep in -40 and taken to safety and all the smiles ,that is ameasure that counts

#6. Posted by Stay in school on January 07, 2018

1500 in ten days equals 150 a day.  Equals 25 people an hour.  Based on the six hours of service offered. Seeing as though it only takes a couple minutes to drive the length of Puvirnituq.  The math adds up.  They are not counting those 1500 as intoxicated passengers only.  Please stay in school.

#7. Posted by Sad but true on January 07, 2018

Unfortunately, there are many people in Puvirnituq who are just like number #1, #2 and #3, who are so full of hate, negativity and ignorance they are not even capable of thinking at the most simple level.

Simple math, the kind of math that you are supposed to learn in school by age 9 or 10 can show you that 1,500 rides is a very accurate number. Thank you #5 and #6. Outside of Nunavik, little children understand this kind of math while they are still in elementary school. Sadly, there are some fully-grown adults in Puvirnituq who cannot even think at the level of a little child, due to their lack of education.

The other sad part of this is the hateful negativity. Nez Rouge is run by VOLUNTEERS to HELP PEOPLE. The original purpose of this service is to save lives by giving rides to people so that they do not pass out and freeze to death in the winter if they are intoxicated from a holiday party.  #1, #2 and #3 are so full of hate and negativity they cannot even appreciate this service or even say thank you. Shame on them.

Thank you to the volunteers who helped with Nez Rouge and please keep it up!

#8. Posted by Never mind red nose on January 07, 2018

To commentor # 7. If you stayed in school, you would realized that your community is sickened with alcohol fuel behaviours, and you would be outraged at the number of injuries and deaths. That reindeer service is doing nothing for your community. It just gave rides for the lack of transportation that people would otherwise have.  If they didn’t waste their money and their lives on alcohol. The red nose service works well in a society where people behaviours are more in line with efforts of making it all work out.

#9. Posted by To hate a drunkard on January 07, 2018

What’s really needed in Puvirnituq is is for the co-op to start selling near beer. Get rid of alcohol beer, that’s for mature people only. If people are not mature, they shouldn’t be permitted under the laws of the land , to consumed a deadly, but great drink,  otherwise for mature people only. Let men and women have what belongs rightfully to them.

#10. Posted by Freezing drunks on January 07, 2018

Nez Rouge can help with people that would otherwise freeze to death in winter from Christmas party intoxication, but what extremes we talk about here. Commmet number 7 refers to that kind of drunkenness. But Nez Rouge for the most part are in reality helping the casual drinker that is sensible enough to not want to drink and drive. The extremes of drunks freezing to death, will eventually freeze to death, when it’s not Christmas, and Nez Rouge is not in service.

#11. Posted by Annie on January 14, 2018

geeeeee! I see all negative comments here,I know you people are just jealous because you people doesn’t do that! Were not full
of hateful and were not ignorant to whoever said that! You don’t know Puv people they are #1 welcoming people in a world! YES WERE ARE #1WELCOMING PEOPLE!! geeeez! I am so tired to be judge from
people who aren’t from here fkn dumbitch people! All you people can only focus on bad shit situation or all you people can only see us as a bad people,you don’t even know us!

#12. Posted by Passenger on January 18, 2018

Thank you Nez Rouge. I myself with three of my kids were driven to my friends and back home over the holidays. I appreciated it very much.

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