Coal miner killed by police honoured in New Waterford
Published Monday, June 11, 2018 9:00PM ADT
June 11th is a solemn anniversary in Nova Scotia towns with a coal mining history.
Davis Day is commemorated on the day that coal miner Bill Davis was shot and killed during the 1925 miners’ strike in New Waterford, N.S.
"He's the face of the miner,” said Sheldon MacDonald, Davis’s great-grandson. “He's really the face of anybody who's left work in the morning and hasn't come home."
The occasion has been marked every year for 93 years and the ceremony drew a large crowd, but there was one notable absence.
Some eyebrows were raised when no-one showed up from the Donkin mine, the only coal mine operating in Cape Breton.
In mining communities across Nova Scotia, people have traditionally stopped to remember Davis, a 37-year-old father of nine who was shot and killed by coal company police.
In an email, a spokesperson for Kameron Collieries ULC mine operations prevented management from attending to lay a wreath -- as they did last year.
Workers at the mine participated in annual safety training exercises to mark this day of remembrance, the company said.
"They're not a unionized mine, but I thought it was nice of them to remember our heritage and our history,” Bob Burchell, a retired United Mine Workers of America International representative said of last year’s attendance. “And I was a little surprised that they didn't do it this year.”
After the final wreaths were laid, Davis's descendants were left reflecting on what has been bringing them all together here for generations.
“It really means a lot, knowing that my grandmother did this as a child, my mother did it as a child, Myself, and now, my children are here today,” said MacDonald. “We had seven great-great grandchildren here, so, we’re really passing on the tradition.”
Nearly a century later, the day has come to honour all miners killed or injured on the job.
"Of all the signature observances there are in Nova Scotia, there is none that is any more meaningful - any more significant - than the annual commemoration of June 11,” said NDP leader Gary Burrill.
With files from Ryan MacDonald.