Editorial: National Day of Mourning

For most people, April 28 is just another day on the calendar.

For most people, April 28 is just another day on the calendar. This year, falling on a Monday, just one week after the Easter long weekend, April 28 will come and go, largely unnoticed. Employees will go to work, students will go to school, and most of us will let the day pass without taking a moment to think about what it represents.

April 28 is the National Day of Mourning. It commemorates workers who have been killed, injured, or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and incidents. And yet, unlike November 11, a date on the calendar that everyone remembers and recognizes, few people will pause to honour April 28.

Eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress, The National Day of Mourning was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991. Each year since, April 28 has served as Canada’s National Day of Mourning. And still, unless the death of a worker has had a personal effect on a person, it is a day that is generally unobserved.

Over 1,000 Canadian workers are dying every year. That’s four workers a day. Four people every day who never come home again. Those 1,000 people represent farmers, fishers, loggers, and miners, as well as people working in transportation, manufacturing, and construction. More importantly, they represent parents, children, siblings, friends, and community members.

In our province alone, Work Safe BC is recognizing the 128 workers in B.C. who died during 2013. This number doesn’t include employees not covered by workers compensation, nor does it cover many others who died from diseases not recognized as an occupational disease.

Although it is usually attended by only a very small crowd, Sparwood is once again hosting its annual Day of Mourning ceremony in Centennial Square at noon on April 28. Everyone is encouraged to attend the ceremony to honour the workers we have lost.

Whether or not you know someone who has died or suffered from a workplace related injury or illness, these men and women deserve our respect. Especially here in the Elk Valley where so many workers are going to jobs every day in the often dangerous mining industry. It is also a day to give our gratitude to the unions, union stewards, and loss prevention officers who are fighting on our behalf for better, safer, and more secure workplaces.

Take time on April 28 to think of these people. Whether you can only stop and take a quick minute of silence, or you have have time to attend the ceremony in Sparwood, every little bit counts.