The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Hans Brasch spent 40 years working in the mines, where every work-related fatality led to the same question. “The question always came up. Who was next?”
Brasch took his first-hand experience to St. Gabriel’s Villa of Sudbury on Thursday, where he participated in a ceremony remembering those who died in the workplace.
The event, which took place for the residents during the villa’s chapel service, comes several days before Canada’s National Day of Mourning on Saturday, which commemorates workers who have been killed or injured on the job.
Several Sudbury miners were included in the list of names read out during the villa’s ceremony, including Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, who died in Stobie mine when they were hit by a run of muck. Miners like Stephen Perry, 47, who died while working at Vale’s Coleman mine this year, were remembered during a moment of silence.
“It’s a shockwave to the mind,” Brasch said of mining deaths. “We lost 61 people in (Levack Mine) from 1914 to 1993. … It’s always the same feeling. I feel sad for the ones that are left behind.”
Brasch understands the importance of remembering those miners.
“We don’t want to forget our past. When there’s no past, there’s no future,” he said.
For Gloria Richer, the site administrator at St. Gabriel Villa, mining runs in her family. Her father, uncle and brother worked in the mines.
“It’s part of our heritage. It’s part of who we grew up with,” she said, adding that the ceremony was well-received by the residents. “Our residents come from the community.”
“It’s the national day of mourning on Saturday. Our organization believes we should remember those that have been injured in the workplace,” she said. “(We view this) more as a means of going forward and as a means of looking back.”
Diane Proulx, a villa resident, enjoyed the ceremony.
“It was great. It makes everybody remember the people that did have accidents and their families and friends. (It’s) part of our community,” she said.
Jolene Linton, a chaplain at the villa, stressed the importance of remembering all Canadians affected by workplace injuries.
“We know the day of mourning is coming up. We like to do some things that are relevant to the community in the chapel service,” she said. “I know some of our residents were connected to people who died in mining accidents and other accidents.”
Linton recognizes that Sudbury’s mining history makes this ceremony particularly relevant.
“I think mostly it’s because we’re a mining community. Everybody’s connected somehow.”