VIDEO: 11th hour note causes rush to hold Day of Mourning ceremony in Lake Cowichan

CVRD board chair, Ian Morrison, says that worker safety is an important issue around the world. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Tim McGonigle, Lake Cowichan town councillor and long-time logger, emcees the Day of Mourning event at Forestworkers Memorial Park on April 28. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
A floral wreath from the United Steelworkers and a hardhat, boots, and roses brought by Lori Iannidardo show clearly that the Day of Mourning resonates deeply in the Cowichan Valley. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Retired faller, Jim Eddy, right, wears his Stanfields shirt to the Day of Mourning ceremony April 28 as he remembers workers who didn’t make it home one day. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lori Iannidinardo, CVRD area director and long-time loggers’ safety advocate, talks about the year that 41 forest industry workers died on the job. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Tim McGonigle says he’s one of the lucky ones who’s made it home after working in the woods but it’s important to ensure that young workers are allowed to have a future. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

In spite of a rocky run-up, the annual Day of Mourning ceremony for fallen workers at Lake Cowichan’s Forestworkers Memorial Park went smoothly Sunday, April 28.

There was some doubt Friday, April 26 that it was going to happen at all.

A late message from the Nanaimo, Duncan & District Labour Council — the usual organizers of the event — said that they wouldn’t be holding it. No reason was given.

A quick post on Facebook to let everyone in Lake Cowichan know led to an immediate response. Lakers would do it themselves, since it was an important recognition of the area’s deep roots in the forest industry.

Before the dust had settled, CVRD chair Ian Morrison, and Lake Cowichan council were on board, WorkSafe BC was ready to take part, long-time loggers’ safety advocate Lori Iannidinardo said she’d be there, and many other people gave notice that they would make a point of attending the locally organized ceremony.

Retired faller, Jim Eddy, set the tone by showing up proudly wearing his Standfields shirt, and several times, the point was made that Lake Cowichan was the cradle of the IWA, and an important part of the labour history of B.C. so it was vital to keep that link with the past alive.

There was a good crowd this year, much larger than in some years, perhaps in answer to the shock of realizing the event might not be held. They stayed much longer to talk after the ceremony, too.

Several speakers during the ceremony mentioned how many people are still killed at work every year in Canada. It was not many years ago that there were so many deaths annually in the forest industry that the old Workers Compensation Board used to publish a grim booklet listing the deaths for each year. While the causes of work-related deaths may be changing, there is still much than can be done to ensure workers get home safely to their families each day, they said.

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