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BC Federation of Retired Union

BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Spring 2021


North America’s first memorial to lives lost to
asbestos exposure at work

Although banned, asbestos exposure still claims 600 lives a year in Canada

A significant piece of public art on Vancouver’s waterfront will become North America’s first memorial to honour those who have lost their lives to asbestos exposure, the leading cause of workplace deaths.

The memorial will also serve as a place to contemplate the continued threat posed by asbestos and other workplace hazards.

“Magic and Lethal: The Asbestos Memorial” was commissioned by the BC Labour Heritage Centre.

The central piece is “Wind Wheel Mobile” by Vancouver artist Douglas Taylor, a 23-foot-tall dynamic kinetic sculpture driven only by the wind. The artwork is a powerful, contemporary metaphor for life, death and renewal.

The memorial will include the poem “Magic and Lethal” written by John MacLachlan Gray (OC).

“Magic and Lethal” will be located at a high-profile corner of the Vancouver Convention Centre West with views of Burrard Inlet where for decades asbestos was loaded on ships for export.

“The epidemic of asbestos is not over,” said Lee Loftus, Vice Chair of the BC Labour Heritage Centre.

“Each year there are 600 new fatalities in Canada. While asbestos use was finally banned in 2018, this lethal material continues to exist in many homes, schools, hospitals and daily products.” Installation of the artwork will take place in Spring 2021.


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