Today, we know April 28 as the Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job. What is less known is just how instrumental CUPE was in establishing that day.
In 1983, the health and safety director of CUPE, Colin Lambert, came up with the idea of a day to recognize workers killed and injured on the job. Lambert was a former steelworker and miner from Sudbury. He proposed the idea to CUPE’s health and safety committee, and members were quick to endorse the idea.
At CUPE’s National Convention in 1984, delegates officially supported the committee’s suggestion. Not long after, in 1986, it was the CLC’s turn to endorse the idea.
Workers also pushed and lobbied so the day would also be recognized by governments. In 1991, the House of Commons passed a private member’s bill naming April 28 as the “Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace”.
Today, that day of action and remembrance is widely recognized across Canada’s labour movement, with the yellow canary as its signature symbol.
Photo: The Leader, CUPE, April 1987, p.8.