On April 28, CUPE 3479, North Island College support staff, held Day of Mourning Ceremonies at its four campuses located in Courtenay, Campbell River, Port Alberni and Port Hardy. Although this is the first year the Local organized and led Day of Mourning events, close to 100 people participated. Events were held in libraries, cafeterias, First Nations Gathering Places and outdoors, where participants stood together, as one, in a circle.
“I am very proud of our Local, especially our CUPE OH&S members, for organizing the Day of Mourning ceremonies at our four largest sites today,” stated Local president Michelle Waite.
“The impact of all of us standing together in recognition and respect – as well as the opportunity to educate workers and students about the importance of safe working conditions – will carry on long after today.”
CUPE members, Faculty Association members, students and exempt staff attended the CUPE-led events. Flags on campuses were lowered to half-mast and Day of Mourning and union flags were flying. Organizers read The Worker’s Statement and provided the opportunity for participants to share their experiences. Comox Valley participants talked about the high risk to young workers with a student sharing their story about the death of a friend this year due to an accident at work. Many talked about how fortunate we are to work in a time and place where we feel relatively safe at work.
“It was really a moment to express how grateful we are to have the benefit of a union in our workplace,” said Regional Steward Colleen Sorensen after the ceremony in Port Hardy.
“We all felt a sense of solidarity that we are a part of a movement ensuring safe workplaces.”