BC Nurse remembered as ‘gift to the community’ during Nelson’s Day of Mourning


by Bruce Fuhr on 29 Apr 2012 http://thenelsondaily.com

Colleen Driscoll of the B.C. Nurses Union, talks about her close friend Gwen Kalyniuk during Saturday's Day of Mourning Ceremonies at the Lakeside Park. — Bruce Fuhr photo

Colleen Driscoll of the B.C. Nurses Union, talks about her close friend Gwen Kalyniuk during Saturday’s Day of Mourning Ceremonies at the Lakeside Park. — Bruce Fuhr photo

Gwen Kalyniuk left home just like she did every other day on the morning of March 15.

Unfortunately, the B.C. Registered Nurse did not arrive back home on that wintry day.

While en route to work Kalyniuk died in a car accident when she lost control on slippery Highway 3A near Thrums causing the SUV she was driving to collide with an oncoming chip truck.

Kalyniuk was remembered as one of the many workers who died in the workplace during Day of Mourning ceremonies Saturday afternoon near the Tyler Lake Fieldhouse at the Lakeside Soccer Fields.

“Losing a person like Gwen is especially hard,” Colleen Driscoll of the B.C. Nurses Union and friend of Kalyniuk told a crowd of more than 50 people.

“She was such a gift to the community.”

The Day of Mourning was initiated by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in 1984, adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1985.

In 1987 the B.C. Government recognized the Day of Mourning and in February 1991, Bill C-223, was passed and received royal assent to mark April 28th to pay respect to all the killed or injured in the work place.

“This is not really a celebration but an acknowledgement of workers who went out to work in their jobs and never came home some from the very jobs in our own communities,” said Bruce Northcott of the West Kootenay Labour Council.

“Work should never kill you to go do your job and we hope we can raise awareness and create a situation in our own environment and our own living that doesn’t send workers off to never come home to their families.”

Mark Johnson is one of those workers lucky enough to come home but not lucky enough to have a scar left on his life that constantly reminds him of a mistake in the work place.

Johnson, in graphic detail, explained to the crowd how he always placed his work above safety.

While working as a labourer in a mill, Johnson was cleaning out from under a chipper when he had his hand stuck in the conveyor belt. Screaming and yelling in pain, Johnson thought his life was finished when for some unknown reason the machine shut off.

A co-worker found him screaming in pain.

Johnson was rushed to hospital nerve damage was so severe that the avid athlete has very limited movement in his arm.

“I know I’m being very graphic in my explanation but I’m doing this so people will be reminded to put safety first in the work place,” Johnson said.

During the open microphone, Gwen Cavanaugh spoke about how she and her husband Paul, son Ed was killed in Trail when the scaffold he was walking on gave way sending the Nelson man into the Columbia River and drowned.

Other speakers included Robin Cherbo, representing the City of Nelson, and Shawn Mitton, Regional Prevention Manager for WorkSafeBC.

In 2011 142 workers in B.C. lost their lives in the workplace, including three aged 18, 19 and 24.

On average 2.7 workers are killed each week in B.C.

Another worker lost in the area was Saleh Aburaneh of Krestova.

The Fortis BC welder was driving home after a shift in Trail at the Waneta Dam when he lost control of his Dodge pickup and was killed a few miles from home.

Aburaneh left behind a wife and to children.

Day of Mourning cremonies were held throughout the province, including Castlegar and Trail.

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