Covid-19 has changed the way Canadians work and play. Celebrations, for the most part, have been cancelled or put on hold across the nation and the 2020 Annual National Day of Mourning is no exception.
The first time we recognized the Day of Mourning was many years ago when the SkyDome was first built,” said Monique Serino, executive assistant, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 506.
Every jobsite in the City of Toronto was shut down and we gathered at the SkyDome (Rogers Centre) to pay respects and to bring awareness to all those who have sacrificed their lives in order to earn a living.”
The National Day of Mourning in Canada is held each year on April 28 to commemorate workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and occupational exposures.
“We hope you may be able to share this with employees and others who will want to take a moment to mark Day of Mourning,” she said on the Threads of Life website.
If it can be done safely, Hickman suggests people have their own candle to light at the end of the video.
“Pause a moment to honour lives forever changed, and renew your commitment to workplace health and safety,” she said.
In 1984, unions in Sudbury adopted the day to publicly acknowledge workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, and the Canadian Labour Congress officially declared the day of remembrance.
April 28 was chosen to reflect the anniversary of the day Ontario passed the Workers’ Compensation Act in 1914.
On April 28, 1991, Canada recognized its first National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace: Flags fly at half-mast, and ceremonies are held across the country to recognize the lives needlessly lost, and the tremendous suffering of those left in the wake of workplace tragedy.
This year, due to social and physical distancing, there will be no in-person gatherings to mark the day.
“While we understand why it can’t happen this year, we are living in a time where our frontline workers need to be recognized even more than ever. They are putting their lives at risk while trying to save ours,” Serino said. “They are working with unknown hazards and, in a lot of cases, with no personal protective equipment.”
Due to the restrictions in place because of Covid-19, only virtual celebrations are possible and Serino says there will be a few in Ontario and in other communities across Canada.
“People are doing what they can, but it won’t be the same,” she said.
She is hopeful that in 2021, the Day of Mourning will bring people together to show their support.
“I believe next years Day of Mourning will focus on the lives lost during Covid-19 and I hope and pray people do not forget and turn out in thousands to remember those who gave their lives for ours,” she said.
The Day of Mourning has spread internationally, and now more than 100 other countries have also adopted the observance known widely as Workers’ Memorial Day.
Since that time, annual gatherings have happened in various parts of the city and in communities across the province.