Maritime mining community shows solidarity with Sudbury, Ont. rescue effort
The whole country is watching the dramatic rescue of the Sudbury, Ont. miners with bated breath on Tuesday, but even more so in Maritime mining communities.
As the workers continue to resurface, so too, are some strong feelings.
"You're trying to put yourself in their place, the fear that they're going through," said Eric Spencer, a coal miner of 30 years in Glace Bay, NS.
Spencer says for any miner, not being able to get back to the surface is their worst fear realized.
"You wouldn't want to be there," Spencer said, "because your mind is flooded with so many thoughts. Are you going to see your family again?"
Terry McVarish is retired Cape Breton coal miner who was watching the rescue efforts in Northern Ontario closely.
"Being a miner, you know every time you go underground there's that possibility that you won't come out of that mine," McVarish said.
The camaraderie the job is well-known for would be more than a source of comfort when something goes seriously wrong - it would be a survival tactic," he adds.
"You're not only thinking about yourself, you're thinking about the group," McVarish said.
"You know in your heart that the only way you're going to survive this as an individual is if the group survives."
At the Cape Breton Miner's Museum, Executive Director Mary Pat Mombourquette says witnessing the rescue unfold in Sudbury was like watching the history they share every day come to life in modern times.
"It resonates an awful lot in the community, because you can just imagine what those families are going through," Mombourquette said.
She adds that while the mine at the museum was a slope mine, meaning you could walk in and out, the one in Sudbury is a shaft mine.
The only way out was a ladder system with rescue teams extending as far down as 1,200 metres - or about twice the length of the CN Tower.
"Can you imagine climbing a ladder for hours to get to the top of a shaft?" Mombourquette asked.
"I mean, for anybody like myself who's afraid of heights, this would be the worst thing in the world."
In Sudbury, one of the miners spoke about the ordeal shortly after being rescued.
"It was just long," said SRC Mining Supervisor Henry Bertrand. "But you stay positive and crack jokes and stuff like that."
Back in Glace Bay where a dozen lives were lost in the 1979 mine explosion, many are waiting as 33 or the 39 miners in Northern Ontario have been rescued so far.