Sports Ticker

Turning grief into action becomes message for National Day of Mourning

Timmins Daily Press

On Sunday morning, 36 people made the slow, wind-whipped march from McIntyre Arena to the snowy grounds of the Porcupine Miners’ Memorial.

Kirk Fournier of IUOE Local 793 holds a wreath in honour of Kevin Knox, who died in a workplace accident in 2011. This was part of the ceremony held during Sunday’s National Day of Mourning at Porcupine Miners’ Memorial. JORDAN HORROBIN/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD

On Sunday morning, 36 people made the slow, wind-whipped march from McIntyre Arena to the snowy grounds of the Porcupine Miners’ Memorial.

At the miners’ memorial, attendees observed the National Day of Mourning. There was a moment of silence at 11 a.m., following by a handful of speakers who honoured those who’ve died and brought attention to enacting preventative safety measures in the workplace.

“In a small town, in a small place like Timmins and Porcupine, those events are personal and happen all too often,” said Mayor George Pirie, the first speaker. “And the only thing we hope is that somehow we’ve learned from them. And that’s all we can hope and pray for. You can’t bring anybody back – hopefully we learn.”

Some names of those who can’t be brought back are etched in stone at the miners’ memorial. Timmins’ mining industry has a history of great prosperity, but also peril.

In 2017, the most recent available data, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board reported 227 workplace deaths. This year’s theme for the National Day of Mourning was, “One is too many.”

“One will always be too many,” Pirie said. “No family sends their loved ones off to work in the morning not expecting them to come home at night.”

After Pirie spoke about the importance of learning from the memories of workplace deaths, Kirk Fournier gave a practical example of an action sparked by tragedy.

Fournier, a member of IUOE Local 793, spoke of Kevin Knox, a 24-year-old who died in 2011 while working at a subway construction site in Toronto. Knox was inside a machine that was crushed by a 200,000-pound drill rig.

That death, which Fournier said involved “inappropriately skilled workers, as well as improper planning,” ignited change in the province.

Companies and individuals wrote letters to parliament that led Ontario’s Ministry of Labour to require drill rig operators to have a minimum certification called a 339A license.

The purpose of sharing Knox’s story, Fournier said, was to explain that real progress can come out of workplace deaths. Honouring the victims doesn’t need to end with engravings on a stone monument or niceties at an annual event of mourning – it can, and should, go further.

”I hope we stand together and mourn for those we’ve lost,” Fournier said. “But tomorrow I hope we stand together against powers that would put safety below greed, safety below ensuring money gets made, when ultimately the true goal is everyone going home at the end of the day.”

Go to Source