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2023 Rolyn Sumlak Award Recipients Announced

Members invited to join us for the April 28 Day of Mourning ceremony

Apr 20, 2023

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Since 1985, AUPE has observed an annual “Day of Mourning” on April 28 for workers who have been killed, made sick or injured at work. Since then, the Canadian Labour Congress also adopted the practice and the federal government declared April 28th a National Day of Mourning in 1991.

Now, union members around the world mark the day to remember fellow workers, reflect on the impact on their friends, colleagues and family members, and to recommit themselves to fighting every day for workplace safety. We say, “mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living!”

Every year, we mark National Day of Mourning to remember those who have died or suffered health consequences due to work hazards. On this day, especially, we renew our efforts to make work safe and healthy for all.

This year’s Day of Mourning ceremony will take place in person at AUPE Headquarters at 11:00 a.m. on April 28. The ceremony will also be streamed live on Facebook. Please do all you can to attend this important event to recognize these worthy award winners, to mourn for workers lost or injured at work and to fight to make workplaces safer.

Rolyn Sumlak Award Recipients

The Rolyn Sumlak Award was created by Local 012 in honour of one of their members, Rolyn Sumlak, who was killed on the job in Lethbridge in October, 1990 while working for the Government of Alberta. This year will be the 31st year that the award has been presented to AUPE members for their dedication to occupational health and safety. We are honoured that Rolyn’s sister, Darlene Sumlak, will join us at Headquarters to present the award to this year’s recipients.

Brenda Lussier (Local 043/006) has been an activist and an advocate for OHS for several years. She is not just a member; she is dedicated to being there for her fellow workers. A Health Care Aide at the Westlock Continuing Care Centre, Brenda holds many positions in her Chapter and Local. She is a Union Steward, a Local OHS Liaison, and has taken numerous courses through AUPE’s Education Department, including all the available OHS education.

“She has never been afraid to bring issues to the employer to be rectified and has assured that follow up and correction has happened,” says her nominator Robert Demeter (043/006). “Her fellow workers are learning the value of OHS and why AUPE is so adamant about each of the roles we play in reporting and keeping everyone safe.”

Brenda has been instrumental in assisting other Chapters in her Local build and maintain functioning Health and Safety Committees. Her continued pressure to keep members safe has made her worksite, and the people who live and work in the site, a much safer place.

Juanita Cozicar (Local 056/005) learned early in her career that nothing gets fixed if the issues are kept quiet. She knows her union is there to help, and she is the union, so fighting to fix the “petty” OHS issues were hers to take on. She has challenged the employer to make changes to potential hazards and addressed the actual hazards on her worksite.

Her co-workers are encouraged to find their voices when dealing with issues and she is always there to support them when they step up,” says her nominator Barbara Malmsten. “She is so involved in the OHS world, she became a Volunteer Firefighter for her community taking courses to improve her ability to perform in that role safely.”

Juanita is also extremely focused lately on the issues of mental health and how it plays into the overall intersection with OHS and worksite safety. She is the Local OHS Liaison for her Local and has held several other positions in her Chapter. The education provided by AUPE and other independent learning has only made her a stronger advocate for Health and Safety.

Wally Howe (095/001) “has always been the member who protects the members and the safety of the patients at the Foothills Medicine Centre,” reads the opening statement of the nomination form Rossco Read (095/001) submitted for his co-worker. “Here is an individual who has been a long serving member of the Health Safety Committee, serves his Local as the OHS Liaison, has served his chapter as the Chair, the Vice Chair, and Secretary-Treasurer, and is an active Union Steward. He has raised concerns on so many issues over the years; many that affect the safety of every person who enters his worksite.”

From dealing with diesel fumes from transport trucks entering the loading bays at the site to birds and mice in the garbage room; from addressing damage done to fire doors by contracted workers to dealing with issues of asbestos in the floors and walls where abatement teams have had to be brought in, Wally doesn’t hesitate to take issues on as necessary.

Issues of near-miss situations which is a preventative approach to keeping people safe is also high among Wally’s priorities for messaging to members. Wally is an activist and a strong advocate for education. He has taken AUPE’s courses including all the OHS offerings and has also gone to lengths to further his education for OHS by taking other outside provider courses.

Please join us either live or via facebook:

What: AUPE Day of Mourning Ceremony, for workers killed, injured or made ill by their job

When: Friday, April 28, starting at 11 a.m. (Mountain time)


Download a copy of the Day of Mourning event poster here to share with your co-workers.

News Category

  • Member update


  • Occupational health & safety committee

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