Shirley Hickman Executive Director Threads of Life Addresses CAW Council

Port Elgin, ON

April 6, 2013

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Shirley Hickman Executive Director Threads of Life Addresses CAW Council
April 6, 2013

Port Elgin
April 6, 2013

Shirley Hickman
Threads of Life Executive Director

"Threads of life not only works with families from across Canada who are living with the outcome of a fatal injury we also provide support to families living with on going life altering injuries. Not just the worker but particularly the family members. Workers often get the help they need from the medical system or support from their union or their employer but the family has been forever changed when a worker comes home without eyes or without a limb or is unable to recall things because of a brain injury. We also support the families across Canada that are living with occupational disease.

Approximately three Canadians die every day just by going to work or the result of going to work. In the late 1990s CAW, and all the unions- everyone involved in health and safety- were looking at initiatives to decrease injuries to young workers and how do we do that, we do that by working together. I was invited to be part of that and Threads of Life came together with all the partners, government, unions, family members, employer groups, and together we are making a difference for families and for work place prevention across Canada.

We help families most by having a peer support program. We provide a quarterly newsletter and our family forum. We have a weekend of workshops. They learn about investigations, they learn about the things we never knew. We have a series of books to help families so in your work place if you happen to have a family that is living with occupational disease, a life altering injury or the outcome of fatal injuries please think about Threads of Life and what we may be able to do for that family. I can tell you the first six months they will not hear you, they are walking in grief, in shock but keep encouraging them. We also go to employers we train family members to take their very personal story just as I have taken the story of Tim. I would take that story and I would adapt it for you work place, so we open the ears of the workers and you do the health and safety training. We do not do the health and safety training, you do. We just give the people the reason to listen and understand.

We have a large network, how do families find threads of life? It is really hit and miss. We rely on folks like you. Help us, promote it. It is about awareness, it is about prevention, it is about decreasing the number of workers that we pay homage to each year. So I know that you can help out, each and everyone of you. You can help out by promoting the partnership and participating in Steps for Life. You can connect families to Threads of Life. You can plan or host a fund raising event. So there is a way for each and everyone of you to support.

We have two lovely granddaughters. Hallie and Jocelyn, who learn about their uncle Tim thought the stories we tell. Hallie just turned seven but I can tell you that young lady has already had at least three political speeches. The city of London has a scholarship in Tim's name and we went to do the presentation last year and she said to me; "So grandma you are going to say something right?" "Hallie I'll only get a few minutes". But she said Grandma you know what you are going to tell them?" I said "Yes, Haliie did you want to say something? What would you say?" "I would say; Mr. Mayor I want you to make sure that all your workers come home safe at the end of each and every day. I want them to remember my uncle Tim and how much we love him and miss him." A six year old, talking about changing the culture of workplace safety. It is going to begin with our youth. A six year old can make a difference, I know you can too."

CAW Making A Difference.

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