[Labour fatalities] ‘We have lost far too many’- by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – September 6, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

This year, the Sudbury and District Labour Council did something a little different for Labour Day. Breaking from tradition of its usual Labour Day parade in downtown Sudbury, the council instead honoured a prominent figure in the fight for workers’ rights.

On Monday, the Leo Gerard Workers’ Memorial Park in Val Caron officially opened. Gerard, a Sudbury native, is international president of United Steelworkers.

“We have far too many people who have lost their lives on the job,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Dupuis, who came up with the idea for the park. “I know that there are family members here in the crowd that have lost loved ones. We just want you to know that they will not be forgotten.

“This (park) is part of my ward, and Leo lives in Ward 5 now and has for a little while, so we wanted to make sure that it would be something that would be staying close to him and his family.”

The park, on Main Street at Highway 69 North, features a board with the names of Sudbury workers killed engraved on small plaques. It was named after Gerard, Dupuis said, because of his position in the union world.

“He’s always cared about the safety and health of everyone, and there is no other Sudburian that has risen to the ranks to be president of an international union such as Leo Gerard, so that’s why his name was picked to be on this park.”

“I’m really humbled by this,” said Gerard. “We should think of this park as a park for workers. We should think of this park as a place that acknowledged those that came before us, those that led the fight for safer, healthier workplaces. We should acknowledge this park for those whose names will be on this plaque and their families.”

The opening was attended by, among others, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, John Closs, the president of the Sudbury and District Labour Council, and Rick Bertrand, the president of Local 6500, of which Gerard is a member.

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