Day of Mourning
April 28 is recognized every year as the National Day of Mourning across Canada for respecting persons killed or injured in the workplace or died of an illness resulting from their work. It is also a day to commit each and every one of us to eliminate workplace illness and injury.
The City of Winnipeg’s elected officials and employees, together with our Civic Unions and Associations, traditionally mark the day by inviting civic employees to attend one of the Day of Mourning Ceremonies held at various City worksites. With the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately the ceremonies cannot be held in person this year. Recognizing the importance of marking this day, the following video was put together. Thank you to everyone who participated.
Day of Mourning 2021 written remarks
Hon. Scott Fielding, Minister of Finance, Province of Manitoba
Hello, I am Scott Fielding, Minister of Finance. Thank you for joining us for the National Day of Mourning 2021.
Each year on April 28th, we reflect and honour the Manitobans who we have lost to work-related causes. These Manitobans are our families, our friends, and our loved ones. We will continue to miss them every day.
As we honour our lost workers on this solemn day, our government stands committed to prevent these tragedies from reoccurring. By working together as a province, we can accomplish our unified goal to bring all Manitobans home safely at the end of their workday.
His Worship Brian Bowman, Mayor of the City of Winnipeg
For all of us at the City of Winnipeg, the annual Day of Mourning is a day of great personal and collective significance. With people all across Canada, this is our opportunity to remember and honour all those workers who have been lost or injured due to workplace-related accidents or illnesses. It’s also a day when we renew our commitment to make our workplaces safer, so further workplace tragedies do not occur.
On this 2021 Day of Mourning, my heart goes out to those families who have lost loved ones. In ordinary times, this would be the day we gather with them to express our sympathy in person – and I hope that next year we will be able to host an in-person ceremony once again. Until then, I am asking that all of us take a moment to remember the colleagues and friends we have lost because of workplace-related accidents and illness.
This year, we add the following names to the City’s commemorative roll. Our sincere condolences go out to their family members, former colleagues, and friends:
- Ronald Ellie (Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, retired)
- Gary Jonson (Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, retired)
- Peter Kurjewicz (Winnipeg Hydro)
As Winnipeggers have pulled together to support one another through the COVID-19 pandemic, City employees have been doing truly heroic work to ensure that vital services continue, and that the public and fellow-workers are kept safe. I want to thank all the workers whose vigilance and hard work have served to prevent illness and death due to COVID, in the workplace and in the community. You are an amazing group of people.
In all of our City operations and activities, let’s continue to keep safety first in our minds, hearts, and daily work. Let’s show the care we owe each other – in every workplace, every day.
Michael Ruta, Interim Chief Administrative Officer, City of Winnipeg
On behalf of the Winnipeg Public Service, I would like to encourage everyone to join us in this Day of Mourning, as we remember City employees lost or injured due to workplace-related accidents and illnesses.
To all the families who are mourning today, I would like you to know: we are mourning with you. The Winnipeg Public Service is a close-knit group of people, and we will never forget our colleagues and friends.
Today is a day when we re-commit to building safer workplaces. Working together through the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a vivid and unforgettable reminder of the power of prevention, in keeping people safe. A conscious commitment to safety has guided us in every City facility, shop, and office.
We have implemented new safety procedures, physical distancing protocols, personal protective equipment, enhanced technology, and new service plans (like contactless holds pick-up for libraries) to help keep staff and residents safe. No generation of the Winnipeg Public Service has ever done more to promote safety, than this generation has.
At the same time, our program to promote SAFE Work Certification continues. These efforts are building a culture of safety in our workplaces, and will help us ensure consistent application of effective safety and health management practices across the Public Service. The Water and Waste Department’s Wastewater Division - Local Sewer Branch achieved COR (Certificate of Recognition) certification in December, 2020; Winnipeg Transit passed their final SAFE Work Certification audit this month; and the Planning, Property & Development Department is in the process of their final audit for COR certification.
I would like to express my appreciation to all our City workers, managers, and Workplace Safety Committees for your incredible contributions over the past year. You have all played a crucial part in keeping our community, and each other, safe. Though the times have never been more challenging, you have risen to meet that challenge with matchless determination and effectiveness.
Gord Delbridge, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500
This year we mark the 37th annual Day of Mourning to commemorate workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to a workplace related hazard or incident.
We also honour the many families, friends and co-workers who have been deeply affected by these tragedies.
Since 1978, Local 500 has lost sixteen members to a workplace accident or illness.
It is also with regret that we report several CUPE front-line workers across Canada who have lost their lives to COVID-19.
I want to express CUPE’s solidarity and support for all workers who continue to provide essential services during this ongoing crisis.
Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment.
As employers, unions, and political leaders, we must all have a permanent commitment to workplace health and safety.
Together, we must ensure each and every worker who goes to work is able to work safely, but more importantly come home safely.
Alex Forrest, United Firefighters of Winnipeg
Hello, I am Alex Forrest, president of the Fallen Firefighters Foundation and president of the Manitoba Professional Firefighters and the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.
It is my honour to speak to you today for the City of Winnipeg service for the international day for workers who have been injured or killed while at work. I would like to thank the City of Winnipeg for organizing today’s service and for CUPE for being the driving force for having this day recognized not only in Manitoba, but in Canada and around the world.
Sadly, we are adding three names today to the City of Winnipeg’s scrolls for workers who have died at work because of the work they did serving the citizens of Winnipeg.
We have three names: Peter Kurjewicz former employee of the Winnipeg Hydro and two firefighters have died in the line of duty in the last year to occupational cancers because of their exposure to cancer-causing agents during their firefighting career. They are brothers Ronald Ellie and Gary Jonson.
On behalf of our 1500 members of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg, our condolences and support go out to all three of the families.
Every year, we have firefighters who have died because of the occupational exposure to carcinogens they are exposed to at every fire in their careers. I have been asked why firefighters have two to three times the rate of cancer compared to the general population. The main reason is because of their job and because of plastics. When they burn, they give off not one, not two, but dozens of cancer causing agents at every fire.
Our firefighting gear protects us from ambient heat upwards of 1000°C and it protects us from fire, but not from the chemicals we come in contact with. Every fire we fight exposes us to cancer causing agents and over the cumulative effect of a firefighter’s career, it causes cell disruption and that causes the cancers.
Unfortunately, fires are becoming more toxic due to the ever increasing use of plastics in our society and in building materials and in every day household items.
Manitoba has been on the cutting edge of WCB compensation but also in our battle to prevent these exposures.
Our commitment today to our two brothers being honoured here today is our work will continue so that one year hopefully no more fire fighters will be put on the City’s memorial rolls.
Thank you very much.
Richard Mahé, Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers
As president of WAPSO, I’m honoured to represent our members on this very important day. Last year the Day of Mourning took added significance as we entered a worldwide pandemic. Every one of us has been significantly affected by this devastating disease in a myriad of different ways. We’ve also seen great resiliency and dedication from our essential workers who have done a difficult job while in circumstances without access to necessary personal protective equipment.
Now that we are entering our second year of this pandemic it is incumbent upon us all, and especially those of us in positions of leadership, to pause and reflect on the situation and to assess how this has impacted us all and act on what we have learned. We also need to recognize that this impact has been uneven. Certain groups and workers have been disproportionately impacted by this world wide health tragedy.
COVID-19 has exposed our lack of preparedness to protect those front line workers who put their lives at risk, and those of their families, in order to provide us with health care, food, transportation, and other critical services.
Though the Day of Mourning is an important day to commemorate workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness in the workplace, let it also be a call to action to ensure we as a society do what is necessary to make significant and lasting changes to improve the health and safety conditions of all workers.
Maurice Sabourin, Winnipeg Police Association
Hello, I am Moe Sabourin President of the Winnipeg Police Association and I am very honoured to say a few words on behalf of our 1900 plus members on this most important day.
It is however unfortunate that there is a need for such a day. We gather today to honour the memories of those workers that made the ultimate sacrifice in serving the citizens of Winnipeg. Sacrifices that we must never forget.
And for the many lives that have been lost, we must also not forget those that have been injured both physically and mentally. Emergency services personal all too often suffer as a result of traumatic events that they have been exposed to. Many who are unable to un-see the horrific events that they have seen.
Our Police Service has been very fortunate with the last member to be lost in the line of duty was in June of 1970. Det. Ron Houston was fatally stabbed investigating a sexual assault.
Since that time violent crimes and calls for service have more than doubled. Violence in the workplace is all too common for all workers and in particular police officer that face dangers on a daily basis. However, those dedicated members of the Police Service continue to contribute to the community, investigate crimes and keep Winnipeg families safe.
I would welcome a day when workplace injuries and deaths become historic. But realistically we must continue to combat workplace incidents through training, workplace policies, legislation, resources, and true caring by the employer to reduce, minimize and hopefully eliminate these tragedies.
Romeo Ignacio, Amalgamated Transit Union
Hello, I’m Romeo Ignacio, I’m the President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505.
As we observe the Day of Mourning in yet another year of pandemic restrictions, we mourn the loss of a staggering number of our frontline essential workers who have succumbed to the virus. We share in the grief of those left behind.
We also share in the suffering of our fellow workers whose lives have been profoundly changed due to the exposure to the virus at work.
And, we remember our brother Jubal and those who lost their life while performing the duties of their profession.
Michelle Gawronsky, Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union
Hi I’m Michelle Gawronsky, proud president of the MGEU.
Everyone deserves to go home safe to their families at the end of their shift. On April 28th, we remember those workers that have not.
Please remember with me and please stay safe everyone.
List of employees
|In memory of civic employees who died of work related causes since 1978|
|Charles Alford||Paul Gyselinck||Doug Prysiazniuk|
|Gordon Arndt||James Halstrom||Charles Puttenham|
|Bernard Bartmanovich||George Hannon||Larry Quinn|
|Eric Basarowich||John Hazen||Robert Richardson|
|Edward Batt||Leslie Helman||David Rivers|
|William (Bill) Besters||Robert J. Hughes||Donald Robertson|
|Len Blanco||Bob Innes||Fred Roy|
|Hubert Brick||Edward Kelsch||Norbert Sabourin|
|Frank Brigham||Walter Kolbert||Walter Samson|
|Brian Brusegard||John Krahn||Gerhard Schilke|
|Barry Chipka||William A. Lauder||Barry Schedler|
|Robert Cross||Edward L. Lennon||Joseph Schillinger|
|Joseph Cymbalisty||Harold Lessard||Robert Sharpe|
|Kelly DeKeruzec||Glenn Lucas||Manuel Silva|
|Felix Desrochers||Guy Lovel||Steve Slobodzian|
|Harris Diack||Xiaochun Luo||Ron C. Smith|
|Art Diplock||William Martin||Frank Spooner|
|Raymond Ducharme||Doug McAdam||Rick Stoyko|
|Rene Ducharme||Dave McCorriston||Peter Sweryd|
|Nestor Dudar||Alfred McDonald||Les Tillett|
|Murray Eastoe||Jim McDonald||Charles James Walker|
|John William Elgar||George McLean||James Woodman|
|Robert S. Everton||Kenneth Merritt||David Zaharia|
|William Farrington||Abe Neufeld|
|William Forrester||Thomas Nichols||Added in 2021:|
|Richard Fenske||John (Jack) Nicol||Ronald Ellie|
|Irvine Jubal Fraser||George Olmstead||Gary Jonson|
|Donald Gilchrist||Percy O’Neil||Peter Kurjewicz|
|Stephen Glover||Ed Palamar|
|Jerry Goldenberg||Raymond Perrault|
|Lorne Green||Henry Philpott|
|Albert Grundy||Andrew Poirier|