An International Day of Mourning ceremony to honour fallen workers and reinforce the importance of workplace safety is being hosted by CUPE Local 798 and will take place at the Worker's Memorial Site at Powell River Regional Cemetery in Cranberry on Friday, April 28.
All members of the community are invited to gather at 10:45 am for the ceremony, which officially begins at 11 am with a minute of silence.
"The ceremony is quite respectful," says CUPE Local 798 health and safety committee chair and recording secretary Martha Higgins. "People are thinking about people who have passed away or been injured on the job, and the affect that has on their families and coworkers, and how they can work to prevent future injuries."
Higgins, a City of Powell River employee, recently went before city council where it declared Friday, April 28, as Day of Mourning and will have a flag recognizing the day, as well as all city flags, flown at half mast.
The event is part of a larger international campaign to remember, in particular, the 144 workers in BC who lost their lives in 2016, according to WorkSafe BC.
The ceremony in Cranberry, which has taken place annually since 2001 when the memorial site was erected, will give members of local unions, family members and everyone in the community a chance to pay their respects.
"It's important to remember the people who have gone before and to do everything we can to prevent losing people in the future," says Higgins. "Anyone who would like to get up and say a few words is more than welcome to do so, and there will be an opportunity during the ceremony to do that."
Speeches will also be made by mayor Dave Formosa and Powell River Regional District chair Patrick Brabazon. CUPE Local 798 includes approximately 200 city, regional district and library workers.
"Some people will share events that have happened to them and how it has affected them, as a way to remember, and also to give support to those who are going through something similar," says Higgins. "Day of Mourning is about all workers, their right to safe workplaces and the responsibility of employers to provide them. We mourn the dead and fight for the living.”
National Day of Mourning
When: 10:45 am, Friday, April 28
Where: Powell River Regional Cemetery, Cranberry