Manitoba

Winnipeg Transit riders urged to share the love on Feb. 14 anniversary of driver's murder

A transit passenger wants fellow riders to give Winnipeg's bus drivers extra love this Valentine's Day — exactly two years after Irvine Fraser was murdered on the job — by bringing them a valentine.

Valentine's Day marks exactly 2 years since bus driver Irvine Fraser was slain

A Winnipeg Transit bus displays a rest in peace message in February 2017, in honour of the funeral for slain operator Irvine Jubal Fraser, whose badge number was 521. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

A Winnipeg Transit passenger is asking his fellow riders to bring valentines to their bus drivers in honour of the man who was murdered on the job two years ago.

Kevin Sadowy wants every Feb. 14 to be Transit Driver Appreciation Day in Winnipeg.

He's asking riders to give their bus drivers some extra love when they catch their bus.

"We're looking for people to recognize drivers and do something kind for them. Whether it be giving them a valentine, giving them chocolates, or a gift card for a coffee shop," Sadowy said.

"I want this to be a thing that Winnipeg does."

This Valentine's Day will mark exactly two years since Winnipeg bus driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, 58, was murdered while on the job.

Last week, a jury convicted Brian Kyle Thomas, 24, of second-degree murder in the stabbing death.

This still from video shows the confrontation between Winnipeg Transit driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, left, and Brian Kyle Thomas. (Court exhibit)

'Thanks for putting your life on the line'

Sadowy — who takes the bus every day — says he plans to give out chocolates and coffee cards to his bus drivers.

What will he write in his valentine?

"Thanks for putting your life on the line," he said. "They don't know who they're letting on the bus all the time. They hope to go home at the end of the day, and a lot of people don't think about that being one of the risks of that job."

Sadowy said he's seen passengers treating bus drivers badly.

"The idea is to recognize transit operators as being more than part of the machine, to recognize them as being human."

Kevin Sadowy is hoping Winnipeggers will show city bus drivers some love this Valentines Day, on the two year anniversary of the death of bus driver Irvine Fraser. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

Health of bus drivers a concern

The City of Winnipeg decided last month to install driver-safety shields on Winnipeg Transit buses within a year.

The city is also considering giving transit supervisors the power to detain passengers.

The head of the bus drivers' union says an increasing number of transit operators are being threatened on the job or assaulted.

"We know there's a lot of people that do take out their frustrations at the operators," said Aleem Chaudhary, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505.

"They're doing the best they can."

Chaudhary says the union supports the idea of Valentine's Day cards on the anniversary of Fraser's death.

"A lot of the bus drivers do build a relationship with their passengers that they get on each and every day," he said. "They get to know them, and almost become like a family, where they watch out for each other."

About the Author

Marina von Stackelberg is a CBC journalist based in Winnipeg. She previously worked for CBC in Halifax and Sudbury. Connect with her @CBCMarina or marina.von.stackelberg@cbc.ca

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