AUPE Recognizes the Day of Mourning
The National Day of Mourning is observed every year on April 28. It is a day for people across Canada to pay their respects to workers who were injured, made ill, or killed by workplace incidents.
“The National Day of Mourning is a serious and sombre occasion for us to honour our fellow workers,” says Bonnie Gostola, AUPE vice-president and chair of the union’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee.
“It is a day for us to recognize the importance of safe and healthy worksites, which has become an even greater part of our focus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
AUPE members participate in the Day of Mourning by hosting our own ceremony every year and recognizing outstanding OH&S activists with the Rolyn Sumlak award.
Rolyn Sumlak Award
The Rolyn Sumlak Award was first commissioned by AUPE Local 012 to commemorate the untimely workplace fatality of Rolyn Sumlak, who was an Alberta Agriculture employee when he was electrocuted at his worksite in Lethbridge. The Government of Alberta was eventually charged for safety violations which contributed to his death.
Each year, the Rolyn Sumlak Award is given to one or more AUPE members in recognition of their occupational health and safety activism and in honour of Rolyn Sumlak and all workers who are injured, made ill, or killed at work.
AUPE is not holding a Day of Mourning ceremony this year because of COVID-19. However, the OH&S committee is still recognizing AUPE members for their OH&S activism. This year, four outstanding AUPE members received the Rolyn Sumlak award.
Diana-Lee Erickson, Local 48
Judy Fader, Local 43
Oscar Steiner, Local 3
Dean Walker, Local 5
“Occupational health and safety affects us all, and these remarkable AUPE members have demonstrated their dedication to OH&S activism through their actions,” says Gostola.
COVID-19 makes OH&S even more important
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an even greater need for OH&S enforcement and activism.
“Many AUPE members are working longer shifts on the front-lines of the pandemic,” says Gostola. “Just to name a few: social workers, correctional peace officers, government services workers and all member working in hospitals, health centres, and continuing care facilities are doing their best for Albertans during this difficult time.”
AUPE will continue to put an even greater focus on health and safety during the pandemic. If you have an OH&S concern at your workplace, tell your supervisor and then fill out AUPE’s OH&S Reporting Form.
If you believe a dangerous working condition exists, tell your supervisor immediately so that the employer can attempt to remove the dangerous condition. If the employer cannot properly eliminate or control a hazard from affecting you, you have the right to refuse unsafe work.
If you have more questions about how the pandemic affects AUPE members, visit the AUPE COVID-19 information hub.