The Workers’ Memorial in Dougall Park was constructed by the Sunshine Coast Labour Council and the Town of Gibsons in 2008-2009 as a permanent memorial for workers who have lost their lives or their health due to a lack of safety at their jobs, in BC and across Canada.
The following letter to Council from longtime resident and advocate Donna Thomas tells the story of how the monument came about:
April 3, 2021
Dear Mayor and Council:
The story of the Workers’ Memorial in Dougall Park is an example of the way we continue to build community here in Gibsons. The installation of this “Day of Mourning” plaque is one small piece of settler history in our resource-based village.
Over the years, workers have paused at mid-morning on April 28th, our National Day of Mourning, to observe a moment’s silence for those who have lost their lives or their health due to a lack of safety at their jobs, both here in B.C. and across Canada.
Fifteen years ago, in 2006, when we gathered once again to remember, and to continue to fight for safer working conditions, the folks attending agreed that a permanent memorial should be built. The Sunshine Coast Labour Council took on the project, encouraged by Mike Davis from B.C. Ferries, and the late Bruce Elphinstone, our long-time mentors for Health and Safety Advocacy. In 2007, championed by the Town of Gibsons and working with their affiliates, Labour Council began to plan, looking for the most appropriate location for the memorial. The Dougall Park site was chosen.
Wendy Gilbertson, Parks Director at the time, said that the highlight of the project for the Town’s employees was the opportunity to work with other groups and individuals, such as Ken Fiedler of Fiedler Brothers Contracting, from whose gravel pit the memorial stone was chosen. Town employee Rick Raymond hauled the stone down to the park to await its placement at the designated spot. By 2008, design work was complete. Final details were worked out, and the bronze plaque provided by Labour Council arrived from the foundry in Victoria.
By now, we were nearing the end of the year and needed to wait for the snow to leave. At the end of January, 2009, enter the intrepid trio of Jackson Wright, Mike Soper, and Rick Raymond, Town employees all, for the final phase of excavating and pouring concrete. Things went into high gear in February and March, with Lisa Simard, another Town employee, landscaping and planting ornamental shrubs. Stonemason Russell Nygren drilled and filled, setting the memorial plaque solidly into the stone. The clean-up crew tidied the site, and we were ready!
On April 28th, 2009, the late Louise Hood, President and the heart and soul of the Sunshine Coast Labour Council, laid the first flower on the new memorial. And today, the monument to honour workers killed or injured on the job, built by the Sunshine Coast Labour Council and the Town of Gibsons, still stands in Dougall Park, on unceded Squamish territory.
An accomplishment of which we can all be proud.