Join us in-person and online this year for camaraderie, passionate exchange and respectful remembrance.
The 36th annual Miners Memorial, presented by the Cumberland Museum and Archives on Vancouver Island in collaboration with the Campbell River, Courtenay & District Labour Council, is a celebration of workers and their families and a call for a renewed commitment for safe and healthy workplaces, justice and equity, and bread and roses for all. While we are still In a time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of special significance that we come together to show our support for the workers of yesterday and today. Join us June 19th virtually or for limited capacity in-person events.
On June 20, 1984, two hundred miners working underground in Sudbury, Ontario’s Falconbridge nickel mine felt the earth shift. Rocks fell, killing three workers immediately, while one died an estimated fifteen minutes before rescuers reached him after twenty-seven hours of digging. The 3.5-magnitude earthquake and the resulting deaths, sparked off Sudbury’s first miners’ memorial event the following year.
In 1986, Cumberland became the first community in British Columbia to host a similar event. Even though decades had passed since the mines closed in Cumberland, the memories of mining and the sense of grief over the loss of life underground remained. The coal mines in Cumberland were some of the most dangerous in Canada, killing over 300 miners in accidents and countless others from work-related illnesses. Appalling working conditions compelled miners to organize and connect with unions from across North America and internationally.
Over the years, Miners Memorial in Cumberland has attracted hundreds of visitors from British Columbia and beyond, and has contributed to shaping the landscape and sense of place in this community through a series of special projects.
In 2018, hundreds gathered to honour the one-hundredth anniversary of the shooting death of local union organizer Ginger Goodwin, as part of the thirty-third annual event. In addition to music, workshops, graveside ceremonies, and art-making projects, Miners Memorial featured the re-creation of Ginger Goodwin’s funeral procession, based on the photo taken on August 2, 1918 by Ken Hayashi.
Ron Pogue Photography, 2018.