Workers Health & Safety Centre

LifeQuilt Encourages Partnerships from Coast to Coast

LifeQuilt Encourages Partnerships from Coast to Coast
From bereaved families in British Columbia to workers’ compensation advocates gathered in Newfoundland, the LifeQuilt has become a means of creating partnerships as unique as the artwork itself. 
Seeing the value in relationship building and broadening a community of interest committed to ensuring the health and safety of young workers, the Workers Centre has been a LifeQuilt partner from the outset.
The LifeQuilt is a permanent memorial dedicated to the tens of thousands of young workers, aged 15 to 24, seriously or fatally injured on the job each year. When completed, the quilt mural will include 100 images of young workers killed on the job whose silk-screened images will be captured on personalized commemorative blocks. These will be surrounded by 4,000 ribbons bearing the names of young workers injured on the job.
The families and friends of several British Columbia young people fatally injured on the job were able to see their loved ones’ commemorative blocks when the quilt was displayed at the Canadian Labour Congress’ constitutional convention in Vancouver this past June.
Later in August the LifeQuilt provided the emotional backdrop for delegates to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) 2002 congress who met in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Alec Farquar, director of Ontario’s Office of the Worker Advisor, and member of the project’s main committee, was a driving force in ensuring the LifeQuilt was displayed, but more importantly, he says it helped focus the debate on the need for prevention strategies.
Paul Kells, whose son, Sean, was killed on the job, told AWCBC delegates, “The LifeQuilt is hugely powerful. It needs to become a national symbol and an integral part of new prevention initiatives.” Kells is currently working with representatives from provincial compensation boards and ministries of labour to create a collaborative national network committed to prevention breakthroughs.
In New Brunswick, organizers of this November’s health and safety conference sponsored by their Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission intend to have the quilt displayed at their event.
Back in Windsor, Ontario, Beth Harris was inspired to get involved when she saw the LifeQuilt displayed at a local labour council meeting and was determined she and her colleagues could do more to support the project. A member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 1750, Harris is a claims adjudicator with Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Working with WSIB management in what she calls a ‘unified front’, Harris coordinated a LifeQuilt awareness day.
With the slogan, “Give so a young person will live,” Harris says Local 1750’s 3,000 plus members, along with another 1,000 WSIB employees working in the Board’s 15 provincial offices, were asked to donate funds as part of a casual dress day slated for early October. “People may think we’re just a big bureaucracy,” Harris says, “but like everyone else we have children, nieces and nephews who will someday enter the workforce. We’re just as concerned about prevention.” Together they raised over $4,000 for the LifeQuilt.
Workers Centre member organizations, including CUPE National, an early LifeQuilt sponsor, have been especially generous. In recent months, the United Steelworkers of America Canadian national office and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union have become LifeQuilt partners, each pledging $5,000 to the project. They also helped to raise awareness among their membership when the LifeQuilt was displayed at events sponsored by each organization this fall. 
To learn more about the project or to find out how you can participate
visit the LifeQuilt website at or call 1-888-869-7950 ext. 3039.