The Niagara Regional Labour Council, representing workers from across the Niagara region have donated $25,000 to the Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force to help honour and remember 137 men who died building the fourth Welland Canal.
Task force chair, Mayor Walter Sendzik and campaign chair Greg Wight thanked the Labour Council for the generous donation and commitment to the memorial project at a special cheque presentation on Oct. 18.
“On behalf of the Task Force, thank you to the Niagara Regional Labour Council for this generous contribution towards the memorial. The Welland Canal was built at a time when labour laws and protections were much different than they are today. Much of that progress is due to the work of the labour movement to improve the lives and working conditions for workers all across the country,” stated Mayor Sendzik. “We are fortunate to have the support of the Niagara Regional Labour Council not only for this project to properly honour the fallen workers, but every day on behalf of local workers in our community.”
The Niagara Regional Labour Council (NRLC) represents unionized workers across Niagara. Under the umbrella of the Canadian Labour Congress, the NRLC promotes social justice, human rights, fair labour laws, safe workplaces and is an advocate for issues affecting all workers across Niagara. The donation to the memorial was presented on behalf of 27 different Niagara locals.
Representatives of the NRLC commented on their work and the importance of the memorial. “While the building of the canal was a huge mechanical achievement in its time, it also came at a huge personal cost to many of the workers who helped build it, as well as their families,” said Lou Ann Binning, President of the NRLC and CUPW 614. “The health and safety laws that we all have today are the fruits of those men and women who came many years before, and from their pain today we have laws that attempt to make our workplaces safer. We are happy to present this donation of $25,000 to the Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force on behalf of the Unions across Niagara and their over 14,000 workers represented by the Niagara Regional Labour Council.”
“The men whom this memorial will recognize lost their lives working on a project which brought prosperity to our lives. The Niagara Regional Labour Council thought it was important to help publically acknowledge the debt we owe to those men and the families they left behind,” said Daniel Peat, Past President of OSSTF D22 and Past President of the NRLC.
Campaign chair, Greg Wight thanked the NRLC members. “This donation from the Niagara Regional Labour Council helps to remind us what this project is really about – the people who built the canal and properly remembering and honouring their contributions and sacrifices made for our community and our country in building the Welland Canal,” said campaign chair, Greg Wight.
The current fundraising goal for the memorial and parkette is approximately $1 million. The project is being funded in part by the Department of Canadian Heritage through a $150,000 grant. Companies and organizations related to the marine industry have contributed close to $400,000 towards the memorial. The Task Force is continuing to seek support from the marine and business community, community partners, the labour community and members of the public. Once fundraising is complete, the memorial will be built in 2017. For more information or to make a donation please visit www.stcatharines.ca/CanalWorkersMemorial.
About the Task Force
The Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force is a volunteer group established to finance, design, build and install a memorial to recognize workers who died while building the Welland Ship Canal between 1914 and 1932. Members of the Task Force include representatives from all Welland Canal communities, Niagara Regional Council, the federal government, the marine industry, local historians, the labour community, and community partners from the Canadian Canal Society, the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre and the Welland Canals Foundation. Administrative and project support is provided by the City of St. Catharines.