Manitoulin mother tells her story about the need for workplace safety

Joanne Wade, a mother from Manitoulin Island, shares the story of her 22-year-old son's death to raise awareness about the importance of workplace safety.

Joanne Wade is a champion for workplace safety after her son's death on the job

Joanne Wade recently spoke to a group of employees at EACOM Timber Corporation in Nairn Centre. She told the moving story of her son's death in Acton, Ontario, as a reminder about the importance of workplace safety. (Sandy Siren/CBC)

Employees with EACOM Timber Corporation in Nairn Centre spent some time learning about the importance of workplace health and safety on Tuesday.

They heard from a mother whose son was killed on the job.

Joanne Wade is from Sheguiandah on Manitoulin Island. Her son, Brent, was 22 years old when he was killed in 1999 in Acton, Ontario.

The dump truck Brent was driving was hit by a train at a railway crossing. There were no lights or railway crossing bars. His vision was obscured by brush growing to the right.

Wade described her son as someone who lived life to the fullest and as a young man who loved his friends and family.

She's made it her mission to tell his story. She has been doing this since 2003 as a volunteer with Threads of Life. It's a national charitable organization that supports families living with the impact of workplace fatalities and injuries or occupational diseases.

Wade works with family members and also does public speaking, telling her and Brent's story to raise awareness about the importance of workplace health and safety.

Wade says that her life was changed forever the day her son died. "I felt out of control," she adds. "I felt like a ship without a rudder, floating aimlessly at sea."

She says that as a registered nurse, she had spent many years dealing with death, dying, grief and bereavement but nothing had prepared her for how her son's death would impact her life and the lives of her two daughters.

Wade says that being a volunteer with Threads of Life has helped her heal.

EACOM Timber Corporation is in a partnership with Threads of Life to spread the word about workplace safety. In her presentation to employees at the company's Nairn Centre mill, Wade stressed "how important each and every one of you are to your family" and how devastating the impact of a workplace death, injury, or occupational disease can be.

"I do hope that through Brent's death, through his story, awareness is raised that this could happen to you," said Wade. She concluded by reminding employees to do everything they can to work safe and come home safe.

With files from Sandy Siren


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