Twenty Years

Within two days, 20 years ago, 30 workers in our province either lost their lives abruptly and violently or in the case of one of them, had their life brutally altered.  The Sydney River McDonald's murders happened first on May 7, 1992, ending the lives of 3 young people and permanently disabling a fourth.  Two days later, 26 miners were killed when the Westray Mine exploded due to lax adherence to safety standards by the mine management. It was the most deadly coal mine explosion since the Springhill disaster in 1958.  Both radically changed forever the lives of many families and communities.

The McDonald's murders were committed during a botched robbery by one of the victims' co-workers and his friends. They made off with $2017.

And who forgot to let the canary out?
Westray, Weeping Tile

The Westray Mine explosion, it was later determined, was the fault of the owner and managers of the mine for allowing the dangerous conditions in the mine to persist without thought or care of the miners' health and safety and ultimately, lives.

Looking back today, to a time when I was still in high school, I cannot believe that these two terrible events happened so close in time to one another.  There was so much loss and brutality in both cases, how did their families and their communities bear it? How can we care for each other's lives enough so that these kinds of crimes no longer happen?  There are so many more questions than answers, still, after 20 years.

When U2 came to our neck of the woods last summer, Bono made us take a collective intake of breath when he sang the Springhill Mining Disaster Song.  It tells the story of a disaster that, along with these more recent tragedies, is indelibly stamped on our collective memory.

All three of these terrible events are wounds in our collective hearts.