Canada has recognized the Day of Mourning since 1984. It's been used to remember those who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of a work-related incident.
In Kelowna, over 50 people gathered at Ben Lee Park for the national event to listen to the heart-wrenching stories of loss, and to observe a moment of silence.
Mark Stokes with WorkSafe BC says 128 workers died on the job last year.
“Twenty-two of them in motor vehicle incidents, 39 due to traumatic injuries and 67 from occupational diseases. Six of the workers were young workers, under the age of 25.”
Stokes pressed the same issue that WorkSafe BC consistently hopes to get across, which is that young workers must be trained effectively so they are able to do their job safely.
For the second year in a row during the Day of Mourning, Lynn Rozenboom is sharing her husband’s story as well as her own struggle to overcome the grief of losing a loved one.
Rozenboom’s husband died in a tragic helicopter crash back in 2008 in Cranbrook. He worked for BC Hydro and had been performing a routine line patrol when the chopper went down, killing himself and three others, including a pedestrian.
“It crystallizes for me how far my journey has come to where I can speak about it. Because six years ago that is just not where it was,” she says.
“It helps me to now see, not only how far I’ve come, but if there are ways I can help in any way and make some small positive out of that horrible tragedy, then I feel it is my right and my honour to do so.”
Nick Perry is also a victim of a work place injury. When he was 19 he was told he would never walk again after 42 sheets of loose lumber weighing 1,200 kg fell from a fork lift onto him while working in a lumber yard. Perry severed his spinal cord, and while he is able to stand tall today, the incident left him an incomplete paraplegic.
Since the accident Perry has repeated his story thousands of times to workers, students and anyone who will listen.
“I was three weeks away from getting my black belt in Shotokan Karate, with the intention of teaching Karate. And that was taken away by a work place accident,” he explains.
“I don’t know how to impress upon people to take into consideration the things that you could lose as a result of a workplace accident. That same passion I put into Karate I put into safety, and pass that message forward to future generations of workers.”
Although there were fewer workplace deaths in 2013 than years previous according to WorkSafe BC, events like the Day of Mourning will continue to raise awareness about making health and safety a priority in the work place until there are no more work-related accidents.