BROCKVILLE – On Friday April 28th, the Canadian flags on Parliament Hill, as well as Brockville City Hall, will fly at half-mast. Locally, workers and their families along with Mr. Gord Brown,MP, Mr. Steve Clark, MPP, and Mayor David Henderson (City of Brockville) will gather at 5 Henry Street in Brockville at 1:00 p.m., joining families in over 100 countries and thousands of communities around the world to don ribbons and black armbands, to mark the 33nd annual ceremony. A wreath and roses will be laid at the foot of the monument to area workers killed and injured on the job. A moment of silence will be observed.
The theme for this year’s National Day of Mourning ceremony is “Remember Westray; Enforce the Law”. Approximately, 1,000 workers are killed on the job in Canada every year and thousands more are seriously injured. In the early morning of May 9, 1992, an explosion caused by a fatal buildup of methane gas and coal dust at the Westray Mine in Pictou County, NS killed all 26 miners working underground. Justice K. Peter Richard, who led the public inquiry into the disaster, uncovered “a complex mosaic of actions, omissions, mistakes, incompetence, apathy, cynicism, stupidity and neglect”. Despite years of police investigations and public inquiry, no one was ever held responsible for the 26 miners’ deaths.
The United Steelworkers lobbied for years and won changes to the Criminal Code so that employers could be convicted of criminal negligence. But since the Westray Law was enacted in 2004, it has led to just a handful of criminal charges and only one prison sentence – despite thousands of workplace deaths and serious injuries that occur year after year. The Canadian Labour Congress is asking that we honour the memory of the Westray miners who lost their lives by calling on the federal government to lead the way on enforcing the Westray Law.
The Ceremony at 5 Henry Street in Brockville adjacent to the Brockville Museum will commence at 1:00 pm. Speakers include, Mr. Gord Brown,MP, Mr. Steve Clark, MPP, and Mayor David Henderson. The April 28th Monuments are often inscribed with the words “Fight for the Living, Mourn for the Dead”. It is a day to honour the dead, but also a day that reminds us of the need to protect the living.