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October 27, 2017 11:08 pm

Day of Mourning Service Focuses on Change

Thursday, April 28, 2016 @ 1:43 PM


Prince George BC – With flags at half mast,wreaths in place,  the service to mark the National Day of Mourning  in Prince George got underway moments after the bells at a nearby church finished chiming the noon hour.

“We can’t bring back those who died” said Don Iwaskow, President of the North Central Labour Council “But we can commit to making workplaces safer.”colour guard

(at lright  Honour Guard from the Prince George Fire Rescue and the Prince George Corrections Service  arrive)

Iwaskow’s comments  echoed by Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, “This  day is not just to remember,  but to talk about what could be  and in fact, what we can work towards.  We’ve had our share of tragedy  when we talk about workplace incidents, not just here in Prince George, but throughout the region.   This is an  opportunity to  reflect and pay tribute to  workers who were not just injured, but killed  when they were at work.  As the adage goes,  when you  leave for  work in the morning, nobody expects that you won’t return in the evening.”

But it was the  personal stories,  of injuries and loss which  made the impact of injury  and  lost life  real  for the 200 or so in attendance.   Mel Camilli  survived a logging  accident, but  lost both legs as they had been crushed beyond repair  when  a heavy piece of equipment  fell on him.

“I was in a coma for 7 weeks” said Camilli  who told the gathering that in the first three months  after coming out of that coma, he was “angry, bitter, I didn’t want to be here” in fact,  he had imagined  a number of ways in which he could take his own life.   But it was the  thought of  causing his  family  more  pain that made him  abandon those suicide plans  “I chose to stay alive because it’s hard  on a survivor.  Survivors( family and friends) have to  deal with this for the rest of their lives.   For the 122 people who died last year,   I’d be guessing, but there  are at least 20 or 30   survivors for each person, probably more, so it’s not just 122 who died,   it’s  exponentially more  when  someone is killed on the job.”  Camilli called on  those in attendance to “be there” for the survivors, “You can make a difference in their lives.”

Renee Ozee’s 23 year old son Scott  was electrocuted 6 years ago  while working on the roof of a house when the gutter pipe he was carrying touched a high-voltage line. renee2

(At right, Renee Ozee shares her story- photo 250News)

Renee shared her pain  “Describing what happened takes so few words, but there’s no way to really explain what Scott’s death has meant to me, to his 14-year-old brother Liam, to Scott’s life partner Krista, and to his friends on and off the job.”

She called  for  increased training and safety on job sites “Employers need to meet their responsibility to prevent injuries. Workers should be fully trained and their tools and equipment must always be checked to make sure they are in good working condition. We all need to help get the message out that losing your life can be  much too easy.”

The somber ceremony  ended with  a moment of silence,  followed by  a piper playing  “Amazing Grace” and  these final words from  Don Iwaskow “Please, work safely.  There is always someone waiting for you to come home.”



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