Remember the fallen 0
A crisp wind off the Ottawa River didn't stop a small gathering at the waterfront chapel to remember workers who didn't come home.
This marks the 11th year the Renfrew and District Labour Council has organized a ceremony to mark the National Day of Mourning, a day set aside to mourn for the dead and fight for the living. It is a day to remember workers killed or injured on the job.
The day is the labour movement's most solemn occasion and calls for vigorous use of the Criminal Code of Canada provision that enables prosecution of corporate executives, directors and managers who act wrongfully or negligently.
Rodger Falconer, manager of training services at Toronto's Workers Health and Safety Centre, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. He said workers can't rely on companies to ensure their safety, but they need to have a voice. He added there is a movement to blame the workers when injuries occur, but people need to be reminded that workers are entitled to a workplace that is free of of hazards and need to be empowered to know their rights.
Mr. Falconer also spoke of the Westray Mine disaster in Nova Scotia, which will mark 20 years since an underground methane explosion that took the lives of 26 workers on May 9, 1992. This was Canada's worst mining disaster. Mr. Falconer told those assembled that just one month before the explosion the mine was inspected and considered one of the safest mines in Canada.
Laying wreaths at the workers' memorial were Sue McSheffrey, president of the Renfrew and District Labour Council, Jackie Royal of the Chalk River Technicians and Technologists and Gala Drolet of Miramichi Lodge Local 3586.
Aside from the wreath, Ms. Royal left a pair of boots to represent the workers that are no longer with us. This was the first time she attended a National Day of Mourning ceremony and she thought the boots were a fitting tribute.
"Everyone going to work should come home safely," she said. "It is important to take a day to remember those that didn't come home safely."
Ms. Drolet added the Day of Mourning provides an opportunity to remind workers they shouldn't be afraid to speak up if something is unsafe in the workplace, and most of all reminds workers everywhere not to be complacent.
Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist