Threads of Life fills void for families of workplace accident victims


Canadian Design and Construction Report staff writer

Threads of Life began 10 years ago with a mission to support families who have suffered a workplace fatality, life-altering illness or occupational disease. On May 3 and 4, 37 Steps for Life Walks took place across the country in support of the initiative.

When Shirley Hickman lost her son in a workplace accident she struggled, as many left behind do. Together she and other volunteers formed Threads of Life to fill a void; to offer families support, forums, and opportunities to move forward in their lives. Today the program serves more than 1,500 family members across the country.

Government organizations, commercial enterprise and key construction industry partners have supported Threads of Life fund-raising.

Todd MacDonald, district HSE (health, safety and environment) manager with PCL Intracon Power Inc. also chairs the Edmonton Steps for Life Walk.
PCL was the walk’s first national sponsor, MacDonald said. “As a health and safety professional, I appreciate the life changing impact a workplace fatality can bring. This is why companies need to work diligently in implementing health and safety management systems which prevent these tragic events.”

Threads of Life also provides speakers who work across the country delivering the message that workplace accidents are preventable and are in no way an acceptable cost of doing business.

MacDonald says he started working with Threads of Life early in 2013 with little knowledge beyond understanding the fundraising and awareness were important.

“Last year the walks raised just under $600,000. This is the tenth anniversary of the program in Canada, the fifth anniversary for them in Edmonton.”

“Through the program I’ve met people who have lost loved ones on job sites,” MacDonald said. “It has made a deep impact on me, and made it more personal.”

In Edmonton, balloons were released to start the event and a bagpiper piped walkers to the start line. Along the path, a memory lane featured workplace accident victims’ pictures and stories.

He says the funds raised across the country are pooled and directed to support spouses, children and parents. Families or friends should connect with Threads of Life directly if they require support.

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