Those attending the 9th annual Vigil prepare to place candles under pictures.

Those attending the 9th annual Vigil prepare to place candles under pictures.

Farmworker crash victims remembered

The anniversary of the tragic event that took three lives marked with a candlelit vigil

By Kelvin Gawley

A candlelight vigil will mark the ninth anniversary of the tragic crash that killed three farmworkers near Abbotsford.

The ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 13 at the Golden Tree Farmworkers Monument on George Ferguson Way behind Clearbrook Library. The anniversary serves as a reminder of the importance of worker safety regulation and enforcement, according to the B.C. Federation of Labour.

Three women died when the van carrying them, and 14 others, to work skidded out of control on the Trans-Canada Highway in Abbotsford on March 7, 2007.

Subsequent investigations found the employer at fault for operating an improperly maintained vehicle with an incompletely licensed driver. It was later discovered that this van’s state was not unusual, when an inter-agency inspection blitz resulted in 35 per cent of all industry vans impounded for similar issues.

Nine years later, despite significant improvements in safety, the farmworkers are still at risk with an average of three deaths and 122 injuries per year.

“We must remain vigilant in our fight to improve the working conditions for farmworkers in B.C. and across the country, and to hold negligent employers accountable when they put farmworkers in harm’s way,” said Irene Lanzinger B.C. Federation of Labour president.