Miners commemorate the anniversary of the Estevan Riot

It's been 89 years since the Estevan or the Black Tuesday Riot, when three striking coal miners lost their lives in a confrontation with the RCMP, fighting in the hope to improve their wages and working conditions.

On Sept. 29 members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) local 7606 commemorated the anniversary of the tragic event that occurred in 1931. UMWA local 7606 financial secretary Ashley Johnson said that many years later they are very grateful to their predecessors.

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"It helped to shape the labour movement in the province going forward since then," said Johnson.

"That was the day when three miners were shot and died. And then a coal car was put at that corner as a commemorative (piece), in memory of those and that event."

A year ago, local UMWA members lead by Dave Dukart took on the process of restoring the coal car, which had badly degraded over the years. At the end of April, the historic monument was brought back to the Coal Miners' Corner by the courthouse in Estevan.

"We had Skylift Services that came with a crane and loaded the car. Some of the mine workers, (UMWA) members had come and helped to load it onto the trailer. Then the car was taken to Doug Dawson's garage. He was the person who … rebuilt the car to the condition that we see it today," recalled Johnson.

"And the plaque, we've taken it to Dynamic Signs and they had refurbished it and cleaned it up so the writings were legible in the new and fresh look as well."

Since then, the refurbished monument has been at its place, looking nice and well-maintained, and reminding the community of its history. Johnson added that they are thankful to everyone who helped them get the project done.

Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of the riot, and UMWA local 7606 is looking into having a commemorative ceremony to pay tribute to the riot and the three miners that lost their lives that day.

And in the meantime, the union is looking into fixing the tomb of those miners located at the Bienfait cemetery. But Johnson said that they won't proceed with that until after the winter.

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