Leading voice for Highway 63 starts support group

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

The Metal Saints joined by and local residents at the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre on January 1, 2016. It was this day Metal Saints have official became a support group in Fort McMurray. SUPPLIED PHOTO

The Metal Saints joined by and local residents at the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre on January 1, 2016. It was this day Metal Saints have official became a support group in Fort McMurray. SUPPLIED PHOTO

She was responsible for gathering over 60,000 signatures for the petition of twinning Highway 63, and now Annie Lelievre has officially rallied together a local women’s riding club of support.

On New Year’s Day, Lelievre made the Metal Saints group official, after founding it on August 8, 2015.

“I have had so much support from the ladies in town who felt my pain of losing my child,” she said. “And after my ex-husband passed last year, more of these ladies stood by me, wanting to help me and others. So, we became a support group for each other and others.”

“I have had so much support from the ladies in town who felt my pain of losing my child,” she said. “And after my ex-husband passed last year, more of these ladies stood by me, wanting to help me and others. So, we became a support group for each other and others.”

This past Christmas was a little easier for Lelievre. She put up a tree inside her family home for the first time since her son, 22-year-old Jason Lebedynski, was killed on Highway 63 on December 31, 2011.

She said the company from her daughter and the Metal Saints, as well as, their involvement in community gave her strength.

“It was a very hard time during the holidays for me, but the ladies and my daughter kept me going,” she said. “It reminded me that life is all about helping others and having compassion for people in need within our community… This made us feel real good.”

The Metal Saints spent the holiday season hosting a variety of volunteering and fundraising efforts throughout the city by; helping out at the Wood Buffalo Food Bank, donating gifts to the Salvation Army of Fort McMurray, knitting socks for the homeless, as well as, hosting a lunch for people in need at the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre.

In 2012, Lelievre first rallied the community together with the highway petition and presented it to the Alberta Government. It was in 2006 when the government was first announced the highway would take six years to twin, but there was no progress made within that time.

The loss of her son on the following New Year’s Eve caused Lelievre to kick-start the set back.

“It’s so sad that the government didn’t listen to people, until I brought them 60,000 signatures and it is also devastating how many innocent lives were unnecessarily taken from us,” she said. “People contact me all the time thanking me for the safety of their loves ones on the highway, although I didn’t do it alone.”

The Metal Saints are gearing up for a few community projects, including hosting the 5th annual Memorial Ride for the lost lives of Highway 63 on her late-son’s birthday – July 17. The group also continues to work on a memorial initiative for the highway victims, where Lelievre hopes to see a flag and monument placed in their honour.

“My goal, with the help of the Metal Saints, is to give people the opportunity to stop for a minute and reflect or pay their respect to their loved one,” Lelievre said.

“My goal, with the help of the Metal Saints, is to give people the opportunity to stop for a minute and reflect or pay their respect to their loved one,” Lelievre said.

As for the support group, she said more members are welcomed to join. It’s for any woman who enjoys riding a motorcycle and volunteering in the community.

“The Metal Saints have been a very strong support group for me and each other. We all share experiences, tragedies, good times and we all have the passion for riding. All of our children are grown up, so we’re trying to focus our energy on those who need help. And we want to continue doing anything we can to really help our community thrive.

For more information or to contact Lelievre, go to the Metal Saints website at www.metalsaints.com

– Connect Weekly –