Thousands of workers, families, employers and union members gathered today to remember those who lost their lives on the job and from work-related illness at ceremonies across the country for the national Day of Mourning.
In Vancouver, B.C. a ceremony was held near the Workers’ Memorial Sanctuary at Hastings Park. Attendees heard from Renee Ozee, whose 23-year-old son died eight years ago while at a job site. He was electrocuted while working on the roof of a home when a gutter pipe he was carrying touched a high-voltage line.
"Describing what happened takes so few words, but there’s no way to really explain what Scott’s death has meant to me, to his 16-year-old brother Liam, to Scott’s life partner Krista, and to his friends on and off the job," said Ozee.
Michael Lovett, who lost his leg while working in a mill when he was 18 also addressed the crowd.
"I was very scared," he recalled. "Thinking that I’d have to watch myself die and that I’d still be alive when the roller finally went over my head."
In 2016, there were 144 work-related deaths in B.C. Of those, 85 were due to occupational disease, mainly from exposure to asbestos decades ago, and 59 from traumatic injury including 22 from motor-vehicle incidents.
Attendees also heard from WorkSafeBC officials, Vancouver city officials and representatives from the Vancouver & District Labour Council and the Business Council of B.C.
Attendees then walked to the memorial where they placed roses, one for each work-related death in 2016.