The History of SADD Saskatchewan


The Beginnings of SADD

In 1981, an American high school teacher and hockey coach, Robert Anastas, started SADD in Wayland, Massachusetts, USA. SADD was originally an acronym standing for Students Against Driving Drunk.

Mr. Anastas started SADD after two of his players were killed in separate driving collisions only two days apart. While supporting other students during the grieving process, he came to some important realizations. Because it was the young people and not the adults who were attending the parties, only the young people could intervene to protect their friends.

He saw that the most effective way to work on the issue of youth and drinking was for the students to take charge of themselves.
It was also important to increase public awareness about drinking and driving and to involve the community in the solution.
Anastas traveled all over the United States with his message and SADD grew rapidly. Over 50,000 American high schools have SADD chapters.

SADD In Canada

Guidance Counselor Connie Peacock started the first Canadian SADD Chapter in 1983 in Cowansville, Quebec.

In 1986 SADD chapters were established in schools in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.  Bert Yakichuk, the Principal of Sister McGuigan High School in Regina, established the first SADD chapter Saskatchewan.

Bert Yakichuk was able to spread the word to other Saskatchewan schools and at the end of the 1986-87 school year there were SADD chapters in Regina, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Swift Current, Weyburn and Melville.

SADD held its first provincial conference in 1988 and by the end of the 1987-88 school year had 50 registered chapters. Since then, more than 250 schools have established SADD chapters in Saskatchewan.  Approximately 130 are active each year.

New Name - New Look

In 1989 SADD in Saskatchewan changed its name to Students Against Drinking and Driving and adopted a new logo that was chosen after a province-wide contest.

Nicole Nakonechny’s design was chosen.  Nicole Nakonechny was a co-founder of one of the first chapters in Meath Park, Saskatchewan.    Tragically, she’d been killed in 1987 in a collision not involving alcohol.

SADD changed its name because it wanted to establish a separate identity from the American SADD organization and it wished to avoid legal problems with SADD-USA.  SADD-Ontario had been sued by SADD-USA over copyright infringement and had been forced to change its name.  

SADD Saskatchewan also wished to make the statement that you don’t have to be drunk to be unsafe to drive.  SADD wanted to promote a message against ALL drinking and driving, not just drunk driving.

In 1989, SADD elected its first student President, Sheila Bazarckwiecz, and established a student board of directors. The board replaced the adult advisory board that had existed up to that time.

Sheila Bazarckwiecz established the SADD tradition that became a SADD rule that students, not adults, speak for SADD to the media and at public meetings.  Student leadership has become an important aspect of the SADD program because of Sheila Bazarckwiecz.

In 1990, SADD-Saskatchewan took the initiative to hold the first Canadian Youth Against Impaired Driving (CYAID) National Conference.  The conference attracted over 800 delegates from every province and the North West Territories.  The conference became an annual event and has been hosted in Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary, Fredericton, Kamloops, Ottawa, Yellowknife and Edmonton. 

However, none of these conferences were close to being as large as the first one held in Regina or the 1996 National Conference held in Saskatoon, which attracted 1100 delegates.  Saskatchewan is also the only host province to successfully attract delegates from every province and the North West Territories!

SADD Affects Provincial Policy

In 1990, SADD began the process of having SADD members discuss and vote on changes to legislation to improve drinking and driving laws.  After two years of discussion, the SADD Board of Directors released SADD’s Legislative Agenda.  When the Legislative Agenda was released it was considered a radical move.

The Legislative Agenda proposed lowering the BAC level from .08 to zero over a period of 20 years.  It also proposed a probationary driver’s license, increased penalties, vehicle impoundment for suspended drivers and administrative license suspension (immediate license suspension for impaired drivers).

While SADD was developing its legislative agenda, some safety officials pressured SADD to endorse the ideas of graduated license and raising the legal drinking age to 21 as methods of reducing drinking and driving, however these proposals were overwhelmingly rejected by SADD.

In 1993 the provincial government started a series of public hearings on proposed changes to drinking and driving laws.  SADD members were strongly represented at the public hearings and argued for laws that affected everyone equally.  SADD emphasized a zero BAC level should apply to everyone, not just youth.  SADD also arranged letter writing campaigns and meetings with the Provincial Cabinet to discuss potential changes.  Jason Dubois was the SADD President in 1993 and was the leading spokesperson for changing the drinking and driving laws.  His efforts were crucial in convincing the government that changes had to be made.

In 1995 the provincial government created another committee on driving safety, which toured the province to get public input on changing drinking and driving laws.  SADD members were well represented at all the public meetings and made a significant impression on the politicians touring the province.  Ultimately, the committee recognized that impairment starts with the first drink and credited SADD for leading this initiative.

In 1996, based on the committee’s recommendations, the government introduced new legislation that included:

  • Lowering the BAC for a 24 lour driver’s suspension to .04, making it the lowest in Canada
  • A probationary drivers license
  • Tougher penalties and vehicle impoundment for drivers with suspended licenses>
  • Administrative license suspension for probationary drivers
  • Most importantly, all these measures applied to everyone equally regardless of age

SADD Becomes Autonomous

Originally managed by the Saskatchewan Safety Council, it was determined that it would be in SADD’s best interest for growth and direction to become autonomous.  This change was supported by SGI.

On March 12, 1997 SADD became incorporated as an independent non-profit organization with Aaron Schroeder becoming the first President of the independent SADD.  The principle of students, not adults, carrying authority in the organization became entrenched in the SADD constitution.  This included numerous safeguards to prevent adults from over-ruling decisions made by the students.  The SAD organization is unique in Canada because of the degree of control the participating youth possess.