Davis Day -NSGEU Remembers

June 11th marks the 96th Anniversary of Davis Day.

Davis Day originated in memory of William Davis, a coal miner killed during a protest while standing up for the rights of miners. In March 1925, during a strike, the British Empire Steel Corporation cut off credit to miners and their families, leaving them dependent on the donations, goodwill, and solidarity of the Labour Movement for their survival. Through it all, the miners remained united.

After three months, the Corporation planned to restart operations without any settlement in place: in short, they were going to attempt to break the strike. In response to the corporation’s attempt to break their strike, in early June 1925 the miners took control of the power plant.  In the early hours of June 11th, the company police moved in and took the power plant. Upwards of 2,000 miners then marched to protest the corporation’s actions, and William Davis was among them. The company police opened fire, killing Davis and wounding many others. The ensuing protests led to the Canadian military being called in to police the area, and when a new provincial government was elected later that month, they arranged a settlement to the strike and the continued recognition of the union.

In commemoration of Davis’ sacrifice, June 11th was designated in his honour and remains today as a day of remembrance for all workers killed in Nova Scotia’s mines. Today, the NSGEU remembers them.

The story of spring 1925 also illustrates how and why, even today, we need to stand up for each other and protect all of our rights as union members, Nova Scotians, and citizens of the world. We cannot shy away from standing up for ourselves and others.  We need only look around the world today and see the millions protesting.  While 96 years may have past, we all can look back at the sacrifices made by these miners, their families, and William Davis.

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