April 28 marks National Day of Mourning

·3 min read

April 28 has been designated the Day of Mourning across Canada. This day honours the memory of those workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of workplace incidents.

The Day of Mourning was first recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984, and was designated a national day of observance with the passing of the Workers Mourning Act in 1991. It was on April 28, 1991 the federal government officially proclaimed the dare as a national Day of Mourning.

Acknowledgement of this day is now observed by many countries throughout the world, but Canada was the first nation to honour their lost workers in this way. Across the country, people may show their respect in various ways, such as holding moments of silence, wearing ribbons or lighting candles. The Canadian flag on Parliament Hill is typically flown at half-mast on April 28.

There are approximately 45 permanent worker memorial sites in BC, sponsored by WorkSafeBC. In 2001, a permanent workers’ memorial was dedicated in the Sanctuary in Hastings Park in Vancouver as a joint effort between the BC Federation of Labour, Business Council of BC and WorkSafeBC.

These three organizations have also co-hosted a public commemorative ceremony for the Day of Mourning since 1997. The ceremony is held in Vancouver.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person ceremony was cancelled, as were others traditionally held around the province.

On Wednesday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m., the Day of Mourning ceremony will instead be available as an online video at https://www.dayofmourning.bc.ca

Premier John Horgan and Minister of Labour Harry Bains, have issued a statement marking the day,

“Today on the National Day of Mourning, we join with people and families throughout B.C. and across Canada to remember the lives lost or forever changed by workplace injury and illness,” reads the statement, which also noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workplace safety.

“COVID-19 has pushed everyone in B.C. to improve occupational health and safety practices and reduce risks, but there are hazards in the workplace beyond the virus. This spring, we lost several workers in the span of a few short weeks because of traumatic injuries at their work. It was a sad reminder that we must always remain vigilant about health and safety in the workplace – every day, without exception,” the statement continues.

“We want all workers to return home healthy and safe at the end of the day. Anything less is unacceptable. It’s vital that we remember the important lessons we have learned over the past year. This will help strengthen the safety of B.C.’s workplaces today and for years to come. Thank you to everyone who has kept B.C.’s services and businesses open and safe, and our economy running. We pledge to continue to do our part to keep workers safe every day.”

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald