Family, friends, co-workers, union members and politicians came together on Sunday, April 28 at ceremonies across New Brunswick for the Day of Mourning. On the flooded Fredericton waterfront near the Fredericton Fallen Firefighters’ Monument, more than 35 people gathered to honour and remember those workers who died on the job. Similar ceremonies took place in other locations including Edmundston, Bathurst, Miramichi, Moncton and Saint John, explained Tyler McCready of the Fredericton Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 1053 and coordinator of the Fredericton event.
On April 28 every year, the National Day of Mourning across Canada is a time when everyone is invited to gather together and pause for a moment to honour and remember those who have died, been injured, or became ill as a result of their job.
At the Fredericton ceremony, McCready said that in 2018, seven workers in New Brunswick will never be able to come home to their families as a result of a workplace incident that took their lives. In a media release, the NB Federation of Labour noted that in 2018, more than 11,200 New Brunswickers were injured on the job while 24 others lost their lives as a result of a workplace injury or disease.
Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union representing nurses across the province, spoke about the need for improved workplace safety for nurses and all workers in New Brunswick. Fredericton and District Labour Council president Kevin Smallwood said everyone should expect to return home when their day is done.
WorkSafeNB director Hector Losier also spoke at the Fredericton gathering. WorkSafeNB is tasked with ensuring workers and their workplaces have the proper protections, such as legislation and regulations, to prevent and eliminate workplace incidents. Losier spoke about the need for everyone–the government, health and safety partners, workers and employers–to work together to help promote health and safety to prevent any more workplace tragedies.
Leica Gahan, a representative from the support organization, Threads of Life, spoke about the loss of her son, a 21-year-old worker killed in a workplace accident in Alberta. She spoke passionately about the devastation experienced by herself and her family and encouraged other family members at the event to find support from others who have also experienced similar workplace tragedies and loss.
In addition to the union members attending the Fredericton ceremony, Fredericton mayor Mike O’Brien and Fredericton South MLA David Coon also attended to show their respect to the workers who lost their lives last year.
Brian Beaton is the calendar coordinator for the NB Media Co-op.