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Coming up in Cowichan: Mairs Memorial, Coldest Night of the Year coming up

Coming events in the Cowichan Valley
Joseph Mairs was a 21-year-old trade unionist and a coal miner who died in 1914 after being arrested by government troops during the Occupation of Ladysmith. (Citizen file)

The annual Joseph Mairs Memorial is coming up in Ladysmith on Sunday, Jan. 23.

Every year working people join together to honour Mairs, who is considered a labour martyr, having died in 1914, a month short of his 22nd birthday, after being arrested by government troops during a bitter labour dispute in Ladysmith. Mairs was a trade unionist and coal miner.

Coal miners were trying to get an eight hour day, health and safety regulations in a notoriously dangerous line of work, and union recognition.

Mairs was buried in the Ladysmith Cemetery with the inscription “A Martyr to a Noble Cause - The Emancipation of His Fellow Men.”

The memorial will take place at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Hall, 1135 4th Ave., Ladysmith, starting at 1 p.m.

The theme for the day is “Our Common Condition”, and the keynote speaker will be John Clarke.

John Clarke came to Canada, from the U.K., in the late seventies. In 1983, he helped to form a union of unemployed workers, in London, Ont. Seven years later, he moved to Toronto to become an organizer with the newly formed Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), continuing in that role for 28 years. He is presently the Packer Visitor in Social Justice at York University.

The theme of his presentation is “Social Struggles in Wake of the Pandemic”.

“The pandemic made its way through societies across the world which had been weakened by decades of neoliberal restructuring,” Clarke says. “It triggered and deepened an economic downturn, causing enormous hardship in the process. In a world changed by the pandemic, with an even greater ecological crisis hanging over us, what lessons can be drawn by working class and popular movements? How can we organise and fight for real change in the face of this unprecedented reality?”

There will be an open discussion following the presentation, as well as live music by Beverley McKeen and Lily Haythornthwaite. There will also a be procession to the cemetery to place flowers on Mairs’s grave.


The Canadian Mental Health Association Cowichan Valley is organizing a walk in support of people experiencing hunger, hurt and homelessness in Duncan on Saturday, Feb. 26.

It is part of a wider effort, called The Coldest Night of the Year, in more than 150 cities across Canada to raise awareness and funds.

The Cowichan Valley branch is hoping to attract more than 20 teams with more than 200 walkers, to raise $30,000.

“We welcome corporate and business teams, faith groups, community groups, sports teams, family and friends groups, and any others willing to walk to raise money,” says a press release.

The event is organized in partnership with charity the Blue Sea Foundation, and funds raised will help CMHA Cowichan Valley create a safe space and programs for homeless youth.

Participants can choose either a 2 km or 5 km walk. People will head out from the Cowichan Community Centre at 4 p.m. CMHA says if necessary they are prepared to go virtual with the event depending on COVID restrictions, but hope that holding the event outdoors will mean only small adjustments.

“Why we walk in the cold and dark on Feb. 26:

• To show that we care about people that don’t have shelter or a place to call home

• For those who spend their days and nights worrying about how to find food and how to stay safe, warm and dry

• For those overwhelmed by trauma, stigma and despair

“We know that homelessness can happen to anyone and that our efforts can help bring our most vulnerable citizens closer to health, safety and shelter. Your support and donations help to make those next steps possible,” says a press release.


The Salvation Army - Cowichan Valley are celebrating another successful year of their annual Christmas Kettle Drive.

“Thanks to the generous Cowichan Valley People, the Salvation Army - Cowichan Valley raised $132,217 in this year’s Kettle Drive,” said a press release.

These funds will be used to provide services to those in the Cowichan Valley who need help.

Andrea Rondeau

About the Author: Andrea Rondeau

I returned to B.C. and found myself at the Cowichan Valley Citizen.
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