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Every year, April 28 marks the International Day of Mourning, commemorating workers who have lost their lives to work-related incidents or occupational disease.
In recognition, Surrey and White Rock schools and district buildings will fly their flags at half-mast, showing our ongoing support for remembering workers who have been killed and injured on the job. In 2020, 151 workers in B.C. lost their lives to workplace injury or disease.
"We want to take this day to honour those who have lost their lives, and express our commitment to safe workplaces throughout our district and beyond," said Surrey Board of Education Chair Laurie Larsen. "This past year has brought additional challenges, and we are dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff is maintained."
At the April board meeting, Julia MacRae, 1st Vice President of the Surrey Teachers' Association, on behalf of the New Westminster & District Labour Council, gave a presentation about the Day of Mourning, making a special recognition of workers who have been killed and injured by COVID-19 and highlighting the effects of the pandemic on workers at work and at home.
She noted the increased exposure to COVID-19, stress and uncertainty, unemployment and underemployment, and long-term mental health effects from isolation are important to remember as we observe this year's Day of Mourning.
"Teachers have been doing all we can to keep kids in our classes safe, but at the same time, as workers, our members have been personally affected by COVID-19," said MacRae. "We have been advocating strongly in the public and in meetings with decision makers that schools be made even safer, both for the students and for all staff members."
This year, Day of Mourning BC will host an online moment of silence at 10:30 a.m. April 28, with a video recognizing those we've lost. The New Westminster & District Labour Council will also host an online ceremony on Zoom from 7-7:30 p.m. To attend, email email@example.com by 4 p.m. to request login information.
For more information, visit Day of Mourning BC or the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.