Day of Mourning Service Focuses on Change
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.”
(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.
(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.”