Mairs memorial speaker to talk globalization, inequality

The Joseph Mairs Memorial Committee is getting ready to welcome the community to the 15th Annual Joseph Mairs Memorial

The Joseph Mairs Memorial Committee is getting ready to welcome the community to the 15th Annual Joseph Mairs Memorial at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Hall, 1135 4th Ave. in Ladysmith on Sunday, Jan. 22.

The event starts at 1 p.m.

“Come and join with other working people to honour Our Labour Martyr, Joseph Mairs,” said organizers in a press release. “As always, our general theme for the day is ‘Our Common Condition’.”

The keynote speaker for 2017 is Dr. Kendra Strauss, associate professor in the Labour Studies Program and associate member in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on welfare state restructuring (especially pensions), migration, precariousness and unfree labour relations. Her latest book, from the University of Georgia Press, is Precarious Worlds: Contested Geographies of Social Reproduction.

Strauss’s talk is entitled “Globalization, Precarious Employment, and Inequality in Canada.”

After the talk there will be a discussion.

“Through this event, we hope to provide an opportunity for all of us to consider how we can support workers, especially young workers, in resisting the demands from capital,” said organizers.

There will be live music by local musicians Art Farquharson and friends and Beverley McKeen and friends.

“We are very sad to say our lovely long time friend Charlie Fox died in July this year and will leave a large hole in our program where once his ‘Ballad of Joseph Mairs’ once rang out. We cannot replace such a person but we can carry on,” said organizers.

After the indoor program, there will be a procession behind piper Frank Nichols, which will walk to the cemetery to place flowers at the graveside of Joseph Mairs and reflect on his sacrifice.

Mairs was a trade unionist and a coal miner. He died in 1914, a month short of his 22nd birthday, after being arrested by government troops during the Occupation of Ladysmith.

This struggle that coal miners on Vancouver Island waged was for the eight-hour day, health and safety regulations and union recognition.

Mairs rests in the Ladysmith Cemetery beneath a cairn his fellow miners erected in his honour with the inscription: “A Martyr to a Noble Cause – The Emancipation of His Fellow Men”.