Fallen miners' families push for inquiry
It's been over a year now since Briana Fram last spoke to her best friend.
Her 25-year-old older brother, Jordan Fram, was killed at Vale's Stobie Mine June 8, 2011. Jason Chenier, 35, was also killed in the same incident.
Born only 18 months apart, Briana and Jordan were very close as children — a bond that lasted into adulthood.
“He was always the guy I could go to,” she said. “I could ask him anything, and always share anything with him, and go to him for advice. I miss that.”
It's still difficult to get up in the morning and realize Jordan is gone, she said.
“Every day it seems like a struggle,” Briana said. “There's certainly a void in our lives. Jordan was my best friend, and a best friend to so many people. We're such a close family that it still doesn't seem real on some days.”
Briana, along with her parents, Brian and Wendy, were at the first annual Labour Day Family Fun Fest in Bell Park Sept. 3, asking participants to sign postcards addressed to Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey, calling for an inquiry into mining practices in the province.
The Frams were joined by members of the Chenier family, as well as by Wahnapitae couple Ephraim and Cheryl Dufoe, whose 25-year-old son, Lyle Dufoe, died at the Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins in 2007.
The families' booth was decorated with large pictures of all three fallen miners.
“It's been incredible,” Briana said.
“A lot of people have just been coming up to us, and saying they've noticed the pictures and they've heard about the need for an inquiry, and they're very supportive.
“It just shows Sudbury is beyond a community. We're together and we're here for each other.”
She said many people shared their own stories about how a loved one or a friend had been injured or killed on the job.
In the end, 1,065 postcards were signed during the event.
In terms of the mining inquiry, Briana said her family doesn't understand why the province is refusing the launch an inquiry right now.
One of the reasons given by the province is that an inquiry would interfere with inquests into the miners' deaths.
“We were certainly disappointed with that,” she said.
“When we found out they were doing an inquiry into the Elliot Lake mall, we couldn't understand why we were told we can't have an inquest done into the deaths at the same time as an inquiry was done. It's the opposite for the mall.”
Cheryl said she was thrilled to see the amount of people who came over to the families' table and signed postcards.
“A lot of people have really be expressing their concern,” she said. “We think that because it's a mining community, there's very few people who don't know a miner.”
Getting people to sign more postcards is just the first step towards pushing the province to launch a mining inquiry, Cheryl said.
A committee made up of the family members of miners who have died on the job and concerned citizens is in the process of being set up.
“It'll be a much better effort now that there are more families involved, because if there's just one family, you're kind of ignored,” Cheryl said.
Gerry Lougheed Jr., who has acted as an advocate for the postcard campaign, will be working with the families on the committee, she said.
Cheryl said she hopes his experience with groups such as the Crash 69 committee, which successfully lobbied for the four-laning of Highway 69, will work in the group's favour.
Ephraim said he'd like to send a message to the premier and the labour minister.
“Dalton McGuinty and Ms. Jeffrey, please listen to us,” Ephraim said. “We're the families, and we're hurting, and you can help make a difference. So please listen to us.”
Anyone interested in joining the committee is asked to phone the Dufoes at 705-694-1328. More postcards are available at the Steelworkers Hall and at Lougheed Funeral Home locations.