WILNO – It can be a sweat shop in Bangladesh or a forest outside of Barry’s Bay. Workers every day lose their life due to a variety of reasons, and most can be prevented.
The ninth annual National Day of Mourning was observed on Shrine Hill in Wilno on April 28. A handful of people attended the event, which was once again spearheaded by Diane Kutchkoskie.“The purpose of the Day of Mourning is to remember and honour those lives lost and injured, and to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace, and to prevent further deaths, injuries and diseases from work,” she said.
Kutchkoskie provided statistics from the Association of Worker’s Compensation Board of Canada. In 2011, 919 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada. Even though the number is down from 1,014 from the previous year, one is too many, Kutchkoskie said.
“This represents more than 2.6 deaths every single day,” Kutchkoskie said.
Between 1993 and 2011, a total of 17,062 people lost their lives due to work related causes, an average of 898 per year.
“We hope this annual ceremony will strengthen everyone to establish safe conditions in the workplace for all and it is as much of a day to remember the dead as it is a call to protect the living,” she said.
Father Wojciech Blach of Wilno was asked to speak. He said the purpose of the event was two-fold: to remember those whose lives were lost and to renew commitment to health and safety improvement.
“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with all family members who suffered the death of a loved one at work,” he said. “We can never turn back time and make possible for those mothers, fathers sisters and brothers to come home again, but we can work to prevent other families from having to endure such anguish by renewing our efforts to do everything humanly possible to reduce workplace injuries and death.”
After leading everyone in song, Reverend Susan Clifford said she has thought about many in the bible that were forgotten about or excluded, such as lepers, the blind and those that were crippled.
“These are conditions that typically cause social exclusion,” she said, adding that those with leprosy were considered unclean, and the blind and crippled were considered to be sinners.
“Some things haven’t changed all that much in thousands of years. Those that are injured and carry a disability continue to be discriminated against and excluded today,” she said. “But the good news is just as Jesus’ love changed everything in those days; His love continues to bring hope and healing to us today.”
Afterwards, Township of Madawaska Valley Mayor David Shulist was asked to say a few words.
“I know of workplaces that could be safer than others,” he said. “Some are very, very dangerous.”
He acknowledged that many workers locally have been affected by workplace injuries or death by the forestry industry.
Story continues in the May 1, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.