My Take on Snow Lake - May 4, 2018

Snow Lake bids a reluctant farewell to the community’s only full-time doctor

On April 28, Snow Lakers packed the local seniors’ centre in a sendoff to a beloved citizen, Dr. Eman Yousif. Although she only practised in the community for five years, Dr. Yousif has many fans, both young and old. Noted for her kind and caring nature, as well as her thoroughness, the doctor had people hugging and shedding tears with her throughout the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored come-and-go farewell. Dr. Yousif and husband Musab will relocate to Winnipeg for a time, prior to settling on the west coast.

With Yousif leaving, Snow Lake is without a full-time doctor and must rely on locums until a new physician is secured. Losing such a well-thought-of practitioner is hard enough to bear, but being without a full-time doctor has many extremely concerned. A local task force has been formed and is studying a variety of avenues in their search for a full time replacement.

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Also, in a fitting acknowledgement of the date, 28 people attended the National Day of Mourning ceremony held at 1 p.m. on April 28 in front of the Snow Lake Miner Memorial.

It was a warm, sunny day and attendees, many in in shirtsleeves, some in shorts, stood stoically as United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7106 health and safety representative Ken Bateman opened the ceremony by introducing himself. “Today is the day that we remember all those who went to work and never had the opportunity to return home,” Bateman began. “We also meet here to talk about those injured seriously at work and those who died of illness as a result of their work.”

In his address, Bateman called attention to the 25th anniversary of the Westray Mine Explosion, where 26 miners lost their lives in a preventable underground explosion at a mine near Plymouth, Nova Scotia. It was marked with a ceremony in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia that Bateman attended in his union capacity. He recounted talking to daughters, sons, spouses and siblings of the workers lost in the disaster and the solemnness of the event.

As well, Bateman talked about a trip he recently made to a Health and Safety conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Canada is great and a wonderful place to live, but for every five workers that die in Canada, only one dies in America,” he observed. “I was shocked … it is pretty scary to think that we are that far behind them in workplace health and safety.”

Prior to the laying of wreaths, Bateman noted that the Steelworkers had lost six members at work during the past year. He named them and their places of work.

Seven wreaths were laid before the service closed with a minute’s silence and attendees retired to the Snow Lake Royal Canadian Legion for coffee, snacks, and fellowship.

Finally, a local woman will be one of seven Canadian female mine rescue personnel who will travel to the International Mine Rescue Competition being held between Sept. 19 and Oct. 1 in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Snow Lake’s Jodi Brasch and six others will compete as part of the “Diamonds in the Rough” mine rescue team; to ready for the event, they will take part in training from Aug. 19 to Sept. 1 at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.

The team is a project initiated by Denare Beach Saskatchewan’s Kari Lentowicz and Bruce Coley in an effort to raise the profile of women in industry and in mine rescue. The project goal is to foster the development of a woman’s underground mine rescue team to advance and retain the skill level necessary to compete at an international level, in what is traditionally a male-dominated environment.

Ms. Brasch has been employed with Hudbay at the Lalor Mine since 2013 and was the first women in 41 years to labour underground for the company. She became involved in mine rescue in 2014 and says that she has been at it faithfully ever since. Brasch has participated in four local competitions, and one provincial competition, where her team was the runner-up. “I am honoured, excited, nervous and damn right stoked to have been asked to join this first in a lifetime event,” said Brasch of her selection. She had no idea that Hudbay already made a decision to sponsor her attendance at the competition and her training, when the announcement was made Saturday, April 28 at a banquet held in conjunction with their annual local mine rescue event. “To put the icing on the cake, my dear old dad was present to witness this unbelievable event,” she said. “This experience is only going to take me farther and to a whole other level in my mine rescue career.”

Of note, the team that won the local competition and will represent the Lalor Mine at the provincial mine rescue competition in May at Lac du Bonnet is captain Bob Forsyth, Tyler Irving, Jenny Oleksuk, Brandon Cook, vice-captain Jordan Galloway and director of operations Brian Shapka.

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