The National Day of Mourning is observed in Canada on April 28. It is a day that we pay our respects to, and remember, the workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents. Every year, thousands of workers, friends and families of fallen workers gather at ceremonies across Canada to recognize the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.
National Day of Morning is observed in over 80 countries around the world, but is known as Workers’ Memorial Day in most other countries
Workers’ Memorial Day was started when two labour activists, Colin Lambert and Dr. Ray Sentes, were driving in early April 1983 to a union meeting, and were stopped by a funeral procession for a firefighter that had been killed in the line of duty. They worried that other workers who died because of work did not receive similar honours, and recalled how members of the United Steelworkers in Elliott Lake held each year a “Workers’ Remembrance Day” for uranium miners who had succumbed to exposures. Lambert and Sentes sought endorsements from union officials for the idea to hold a national day of mourning, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) passed a resolution to that effect at its annual convention in 1983, and the Canadian Labour Congress followed suit at its annual convention the following year. The AFL-CIO declared a day of mourning in 1989 and a “workers’ Memorial Day” is observed in over 100 countries.
In December 1990, this day became a national observance in Canada with the passing of the Workers Mourning Day Act, so that on April 28, 1991, it was officially the National Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace; making April 28, an official Workers’ Mourning Day.
April 28th was picked because on that day in 1914, the Workers Compensation Act received its third reading.
The Canadian flag is flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on all federal government buildings. Workers and employees observe this day in various ways including lighting candles, donning ribbons and black armbands, and observing a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m.