CUPE Vancouver Island District Council members joined others this weekend in Cumberland for Miners’ Memorial Day.
The annual event is at the Cumberland Cemetery which holds the grave of miner and union organizer Ginger Goodwin. The event honours Goodwin and all miners who have given their lives in the struggle to feed their families.
Goodwin, who took part in strikes in Cumberland in 1912 and at the Trail smelter in 1917, was shot dead by police in 1918. He has become an important figure in the struggle for workers’ rights.
The Cumberland Museum and Archives supports Cumberland’s mining heritage and a full weekend of activities. This includes a “Songs of the Workers” Pub Night, a graveside vigil at the Cumberland Cemetery, and a dinner.
This past weekend, many union members came and laid flowers on Goodwin’s grave. CUPE 2081 president Jerry Oetting was there and said that the historic struggles were made very current with the attendance of Napoleon Gomez, leader of Mexico’s Los Mineros miners’ union.
“Gomez spoke about the explosion at Grupo Mexico’s Pasta de Conchos coal mine leading to the death of 65 Los Mineros members. He has lived in exile in Canada since 2006 after denouncing the deadly mine explosion as ‘industrial homicide’ and criticizing Grupo Mexico and the Mexican government,” said Oetting.
The Mexican government targeted Gomez and escalated its violent attacks on Los Mineros. Facing death against himself and his family, as well as trumped-up charges, Gomez came to Canada, with support from the USW . Despite his forced exile, he has been democratically re-elected by Los Mineros members and continues to lead the union.