When Karine Jetté-Contant and Sonia Cloutier, both correctional officers at La Macaza Institution in Quebec, went to Las Vegas as part of a fun road trip, they didn’t expect to find themselves in the midst of the United States’ largest mass shooting in history. Sadly, they did.
“We were having a great time exploring the west coast,” says Karine. “We were just wrapping up our trip in Las Vegas when everything happened.”
On the night of October 1, Karine and Sonia attended a Golden Knights hockey game at an arena close to the concert where over fifty people would lose their lives later on that evening. While at the game, Karine and Sonia saw a sweet photo on the big screen of a couple in the crowd enjoying their time at the game. Sadly, the next morning they would see that same photo on the news with the announcement that the man in it had been shot and killed while protecting his girlfriend later that night.
When walking back to their hotel after the game and some dinner, Karine and Sonia were taken aback by the sirens they heard and the police presence in the area. They did not know what had happened, and assumed it was a bad accident in the area. They headed back to their hotel and went to bed.
“I remember saying to Karine, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of police out here!” says Sonia. “But we had no idea what had happened.”
The next morning, both Karine and Sonia woke up to worried messages and texts from loved ones wanting to know if they were ok. That is when the girls turned on the tv and found out what all the sirens and police presence the night before was for. They also saw that local health officials were asking for blood donations to help those wounded in the shooting. Being the first responders they are, they wanted to help.
“It’s who we are,” says Karine. “We want to help. Even if there is an accident on the side of the road, we always stop. It’s what we do. We help people.”
“We needed to catch a flight that night but we figured if we went early enough, we could do it,” says Sonia.
Karine and Sonia packed up their stuff and headed to donate blood. When they arrived, they faced a 10-hour wait to do so. They knew they wouldn’t make their flight if they waited that long, so they kindly asked a military official on-site if they could move ahead of the line so that they could make their donations before having to leave. He was happy to accommodate.
“They were so happy to see Canadians coming to help,” says Sonia. “Their system wouldn’t recognize us so they created a Las Vegas address for us so that we could donate. They were very thankful for our help.”
During one of the worst moments for America, Karine and Sonia saw some of the best coming from those who gathered to help. From the people who used their own money to buy food and drinks for people waiting in line, to the thousands of people who showed up to donate their blood, to the volunteers who stood in 40 degree weather for hours upon hours, they saw what humanity has to offer in the worst of times.
We are proud to call Karine and Sonia our employees. Well done to both of them.