Letter from Conifex

Jan 30, 2012

The forest industry has been hit with many severe blows over the past couple of years, but no hit has been harder than the recent explosive destruction of the Babine Forest Products plant in Burns Lake.

The people of Burns Lake are not only dealing with the loss of the community’s largest employer, but with the physical, mental, and spiritual scars of the violent destruction of their mill.  Workers and the community are also dealing with the tragic loss of two deeply loved community members and fellow employees.  

For those of us who work in the sawmill industry the tragedy in Burns Lake hits close to home.  We work in plants that have similar hazards.  All of us have families that love us and care about us, and sometimes we take it for granted that we have very dangerous jobs.  This tragedy could have happened anywhere.  All one has to do is to look around the plant that they work at and imagine this tragedy occurring where they work.  To see co-workers injured, to see the place that you have been employed at for years suddenly blow up, and to lose coworkers is hard to fathom.  

We sometimes get set in our ways working in a sawmill, and we tend to forget that life isn’t our place of employment and what occurs there.  Life is our families at home, those who love us, and those who count on us.  At the end of the day we all want to get home safe and sound.  

The focus of this tragedy should be on the people who lost their loved ones, those who have been injured, and the community of Burns Lake.  As union members we should be willing to step up and help out our fellow workers who are hurting and struggling to make sense of all of this.

As you go about your day I hope that you take a moment to pause and consider the families of those who have passed away and those who have been injured and lost their place of employment in Burns Lake.  If you are so inclined, pray that their physical, mental, and spiritual scars will be healed, and that they will know the comfort of the love of God at this terrible time.

Please consider donating to the workers and their families who are affected by this tragedy and help support fellow members who are suffering deeply at this time of loss.

Rick Playfair
Conifex, Fort St. James