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Alberta mourns the 165 workers who lost their lives last year

Recipient of AUPE’s Rolyn Sumlak Award announced

Apr 19, 2024

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Every year, union members gather to remember workers who died as a result of their employment. Every year, we ask: Why so many?

Why did 165 Albertan workers die in 2023? Why did 165 families have to endure that enormous grief? Why did their friends and relatives have to learn how to get through each day without their loved one?

There are no easy answers to these questions, but it is important to keep asking them. Nearly all workplace injuries and deaths can be prevented with proper occupational health and safety precautions and training.

That’s why April 28 is marked as the Day of Mourning around the world. We gather to mourn, but also to remember how important it is to keep fighting for better and safer workplaces, for better occupational health and safety laws and regulations, for fewer workplace deaths and injuries.  

Of the 165 who died in Alberta, 89 died from occupational diseases, 39 from trauma, 29 from motor vehicle accidents, and eight from other causes.  

Read more about the Day of Mourning in Alberta.

Because April 28 falls on a Sunday this year, AUPE’s Day of Mourning ceremony will be held on Friday, April 26.

Please join us either live or via Facebook, where the ceremony will be streamed live.

What: AUPE Day of Mourning Ceremony, for workers killed, injured or made ill by their job.

When: Friday, April 26, starting at 11 a.m. (Mountain time).

Download a copy of the Day of Mourning Ceremony poster to share with your co-workers.

Rolyn Sumlak Award

Occupational health and safety is important to AUPE members. We offer education courses on workplace safety for members, and we honour members who have strived to make their work sites safer.

AUPE’s Rolyn Sumlak Award was created by Local 012 and named after one of their members who was killed on the job in Lethbridge while working for the Government of Alberta in 1990. AUPE’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee presents the award annually in recognition of members’ dedication to occupational health and safety.

This year’s recipient “shows a tremendous passion” for workplace safety, according to the colleague who nominated her.

Dorinda Ainscough is a caretaker at William Watson Lodge and Peter Lougheed Park in the Kananaskis Region. She is the go-to person for anyone with workplace safety questions or concerns, says her fellow member of Local 012, Terrie Wispinski.

The list of the occupational health and safety (OHS) courses she has completed is long and impressive, including AUPE’s OHS for Union Activists, and external programs earning certificates from Government of Alberta (GOA) the Alberta Construction Safety Association (ACSA).  

She has taken all she’s learned in those courses and applied them at her worksite.  

But it’s much more than talk. Ainscough walks the walk. Thanks to her, parking-lot lights were changed to LED because the old bulbs kept burning out; she got a timer lock installed on a building that is unstaffed after hours; she got ergonomic chairs for work colleagues; and she got contractors to remove scaffolding that had been left blocking emergency exits.

When Ainscough sees a problem, she springs into action. She has been “selfless in the time and energy … given to make our workers and worksites safe,” says Wispinski.

Ainscough will receive the Rolyn Sumlak Award at AUPE’s Day of Mourning ceremony in Edmonton.

News Category

  • Member update


  • Occupational health & safety committee

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