The Asbestos MemorialJennifer Wiebe
The first monument in North America to honour the thousands who have died (and continue to suffer and die) from asbestos exposure, Vancouver’s Asbestos Memorial was officially dedicated on September 22, 2022. You can see Doug R Taylor’s kinetic sculpture, named “Wind Wheel Mobile,” on the waterfront path at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.
We tend to think of workplace health and safety in terms of physical hazards and personal protective equipment. But environmental hazards, mental illness, and occupational disease are significant risks to our businesses and our people. Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related lung disease, remains the leading cause of workplace deaths in our province—and has been responsible for fully one third of all workplace deaths in Canada since 2000.
This beautiful piece of public art honours the thousands who have died, and continue to die—including 53 British Columbians in the past year—from asbestos exposure.
The memorial is a symbol of the dangers that can hide unseen— in our workplaces and environment, affecting workers sometimes years or decades after their exposure. Facing Burrard Inlet, where for decades, workers loaded asbestos into ships for export, the memorial is part of the “Line of Work” art installation profiling workers killed and injured on the job.
- This excellent editorial by B.C. Labour Heritage Centre chair Joey Hartman explains why asbestos remains a significant hazard to B.C. workers and families.
- And this WorkSafeBC video tells more of the story.
Photo credit: BC Labour Heritage Centre