Injured, killed workers honoured at National Day of Mourning ceremony

Rev. June McDougall, Heather Jacko and Dan Hawke lay a wreath in honour of injured workers. photo by Robin Burridge

AUNDECK OMNI KANING—A gathering was held at the Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) band office to honour injured and killed workers last Friday on the National Day of Mourning.

Herne Steelgrave gave the opening remarks, while Reverend June McDougall gave the opening prayer followed by a moment of silence.

Gary Hrystak, president of Manitoulin Northshore Injured Workers, spoke of how the death of a worker affects the community and family.

“Take the message with you today that an injury to one worker, is an injury to all,” he said. “It is important to remember today the families that have been left behind after a worker is killed.”

Executive director of the Manitoulin Legal Clinic, Michael Shain, noted the absence of Joanne Wade. “She couldn’t be here with us today, but last year she spoke so eloquently and shared the story of how she lost her son,” said Mr. Shain.

“Dealing with workplace injuries are the bulk of what I do,” said Mr. Shain. “I recently closed a case that I have been working on since 2008. A woman who was doing homecare badly hurt her back lifting an obese patient. She became disabled and was unable to work. WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) denied her coverage. The excuse that WSIB used was that there was no witness to the incident. A year later we were successful and they gave her money for the last year she was off work, but said that she needed to return to work which she was not able to do.”

Mr. Shain described how the case continued and how difficult it is for people dealing with WSIB.

“We were able to win the case, but was it a win after nine years of fighting and not having income?” he questioned. “Injured workers are not on the agenda of any of the three political parties. We need to create reform and fight for the fair and timely compensation of workers injured or killed on the job.”

Colin Pick spoke on behalf of veterans, noting how uniforms help give them exposure to the media and recognition by the federal government.

“Politicians don’t react the same when a worker is injured as when a veteran is,” said Mr. Pick. “People aren’t standing up for injured workers and this needs to change.”

Mr. Pick also talked about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its effect on both veterans and injured workers.

Revered McDougall lit a candle to symbolize peace and remembrance and read the names of injured or killed workers from the Manitoulin area.

Wreaths were laid in honour of injured workers and killed workers.

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin thanked the organizers for inviting him to the ceremony and for holding the event.

“This ceremony reminds me what a huge impact a killed worker has on a family,” said Mayor MacNevin. “The stories you shared were very sobering and it is good to remember those from the area that have been injured or killed while on the job.”