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Cape Breton and District Labour Council Day of Mourning Ceremony - April 28th, 2011

by Rebecca MacDonald

CUPW members laying a wreath
Retired CUPW member Paul Hollohan introducing the ceremony.
Wreathes and bouquets in memory of those injured and killed on the job, given by local unions, organizations, and families.
Master of ceremonies Todd MacPherson, president of the Cape Breton and District Labour Council
Guest speaker Tom McNamara, vice-president of the NS Federation of Labour
Guest speaker Donna Green, a woman injured on the job who can no longer work
Joe Legge, spokesperson for the Threads of Life campaign
Mary Jessome reading the poem "Tribute to the Deceased Cape Breton Worker", written by retired steelworker Rod Livingston
Mayor John Morgan, after laying a wreath for workers injured or killed on the job on behalf of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality
Avis Mysyk, treasurer of the CB and District Labour Council, laying a wreath on behalf of the CBU Faculty Association
Representatives of local organizations, unions and families of workers who have passed away, standing in a moment of silence
Piper Courtney McPherson piping out the ceremony

Last Thursday, April 28th was the annual Day of Mourning Ceremony, organized by the Cape Breton and District Labour Council. This ceremony is a national event, and a time for workers to come together in the battle for safety in the workplace. It is a time of sadness; many families who have lost a loved one in a workplace accident attend, and unions from both the labour and trade councils of Cape Breton attend to pay respect to their injured and fallen sisters and brothers.

Donna Green, a woman who was injured on the job and now cannot work, spoke about how strongly we identify with our work, and what an important and defining part of our lives it is; she spoke frankly about the depression she suffered as she realized that she would not be able to continue her work as a nurse.

Although these stories cause sadness, there is another sentiment that is so important to any Day of Mourning Ceremony - anger! As workers from all areas of the country come together, it is not only a day of remembrance but also a day to renew the struggle for workplace safety. Although we may have a number of provincial regulations in place to protect workers on the job, enforcement in many situations is either weak or not there at all.

The Day of Mourning is a time to reflect on the losses of so many, and use the pain felt to pressure governments and employers to step up to the plate and start working towards preventing the many unnecessary deaths and injuries that happen across Canada every year.


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Topics: Labour
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