CUPE local 2093 representative Mike Poirier raises his fist as a salute to fallen workers. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press CUPE local 2093 representative Mike Poirier raises his fist as a salute to fallen workers. (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

On Day of Mourning, Fernie remembers victims of ammonia leak tragedy

“We can never forget the men we lost,” said Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano

This year’s Day of Mourning holds a special meaning to the Fernie community, less than a year after a fatal ammonia leak rocked the small B.C. town.

On Friday, city council and staff stood in silence outside City Hall – a similar kind of ceremony that will be held across 40 communities in the province Saturday, to remember workers who have been killed, injured or disabled while on the job.

This year, the ceremony was particularly profound, after city workers Wayne Hornquist, Lloyd Smith and contractor Jason Podloski lost their lives in the tragic incident at Fernie Memorial Arena last October.

“Everyone standing here remembers last October 17,” said Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano. “We rallied together, we stayed strong, and we can’t ever forget.”

She said that as hard as last year was, Fernie wasn’t alone. Last year, 155 workers died from a workplace injury or disease in B.C. alone.

“That’s what the National Day of Mourning is for. To honour those we lost,” she said. “But also, to redouble our efforts to creating safe, healthy workplaces. We all deserve to feel safe at work. And our families deserve to know we’re coming home to them.”

Canadian Union of Public Employees local 2093 representative Mike Poirier echoed Mayor Giuliano’s comments, adding that it’s important to come together and honour those who have lost their lives on the job. He said that most present have likely been affected by a workplace injury.

He said that a sad fact is that injuries still happen and added that last year, alongside the 155 deaths reported, there were 149,554 injuries.

“Whether we’re doing a better job at reporting, or they’re just happening, that’s a pretty high number,” said Poirier.

“Just like the people who were close to us, these people were important to their communities too. They were parents, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters, friends, coworkers, team members, coaches and neighbours.”

Poirier said this is why it is important to come together and remember the fallen workers.

“They are a part of us, and their loss affected all of us.”

He said that this important ceremony is also an opportunity for them to support each other through this loss, and remember their commitment to creating safer workplaces for everyone. Through positive collaboration, he hopes everyone can work together to make their job sites safer.

“Let’s honour our fallen workers by making a new legacy for them,” said Poirier. “One that’s about more than just what we’ve lost, but one that’s about how they’ve inspired us to make things better, so that everyone comes home safe.”

Poirier then raised his fist in the air, which everyone followed, as a salute to those fallen.

Just Posted

Two projects to tackle Haisla housing shortage

B.C. government plans to build more than 280 homes across nine communities in the north

Museum and Haisla Nation Council sign MOU

MOU further strengthens the existing relationship

VIDEO: Dog behaviourist holds classes to raise funds for NARA

Holidays are a busy time for rescue agencies

City of Terrace leaps into real estate market

Expects that Canada LNG project will spark developer interest

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Most Read