Workers Health & Safety Centre

Canada's first monument to farm workers honours crash victims

Canada's first monument to farm workers honours crash victims
A new British Columbia monument honours Canadian farm workers and is dedicated to three workers killed when the van that carried them to work overturned and crashed.
In March 2007 a 15-seat passenger van carrying 17 farm workers overturned on the TransCanada highway near Abbotsford, B.C., killing three farm workers, Amarjit Kaur Bal, Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu and Sukhwinder Kaur Punia, and injuring 14 others.

A 2009 coroner’s inquest concluded the van was overcrowded, had only two seat belts and was poorly maintained. The van’s driver also did not have a valid driver’s license.

Golden Tree monument

The Golden Tree monument is a stunning dedication to the three women who lost their lives in the crash. It will also be a permanent reminder of the central contribution of farm workers to Canadian society and the ongoing struggle to improve their working conditions.

Designed by local artists Dean and Christina Lauzé, the 7 metre tall monument is comprised of a twisting apple tree that merges into three female forms. Organizers expect to install the monument this fall in the International Friendship Garden behind Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Library. A majority of the funds were donated by the B.C. Federation of Labour and its member unions as well as the B.C. government and local community groups.

Vulnerable workers

Almost three years ago, a 15-seat passenger van carrying farm workers home at the end of the work day crashed in southwestern Ontario killing 10 workers and a truck driver. The coroner’s office did not hold a public inquiry concluding the crash was a result of driver error.

The protection of vulnerable workers, including farm workers, was among the 46 recommendations made by Ontario’s government-appointed Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety in their 2010 report.  Developing regulations to control key hazards associated with farm work was recommended by the Panel but has not yet been implemented.

Other related resources:
OHCOW - Migrant Farm Worker Program
Agriculture Workers Alliance
MOL resources for Farming Operations-Agriculture

WHSC offers a range of training programs and resources to help workplace parties identify, assess and control workplace hazards and better understand and exercise all of their legal rights and responsibilities. 

Call: 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training service representative.