Sukhman Sidhu, 7, left, and Avnoor Sidhu, 9, look out at a small model of a proposed sculpture at a memorial for their mother Sarabjit Sidhu and two other women farm workers who where killed when the van they were travelling to a farm crashed in Abbotsford March 7, 2007. The six-metre-high sculpture will be installed at Mill Lake Park.
Photograph by: Ric Ernst , PNG
Family and friends of three farm workers killed in a van accident in 2007 gathered in Abbotsford Sunday to preview a memorial to the women to be placed in Mill Lake Park.
Amarjit Kaur Bal, Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu and Sukhwinder Kaur Punia died on March 7, 2007, when a 15-passenger van carrying 17 women flipped onto a concrete median on Hwy. 1 near the Sumas exit.
An investigation revealed the driver of the vehicle didn’t have a proper licence and the van didn’t have properly inflated tires or enough seatbelts.
The deaths thrust the issue of farm worker safety to public prominence.
Sunday’s event saw the unveiling of a small model of the monument — a gold leaf tree with branches twisted into three female forms designed by B.C. artist Dean Lauze.
Jagjit Sidhu, husband of one of the workers, paused for a moment before speaking at the event.
“We are overjoyed with this beautiful monument, designed in remembrance to our lost wives and mothers,” he said, according to a release from the B.C. Federation of Labour.
A spokesman for the federation said Abbotsford community members and unions are raising money for the statue, expected to cost $250,000. The provincial government and the Workers’ Compensation Board have provided $100,000 to the monument, and the hope is to install it by this time next year.
Abbotsford City Council gave approval to the memorial, the only monument to farm workers in B.C., last April, drawing praise from B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair.
“I think it’s a powerful image and will be suitable, not only as a testimony and memorial to these women, but also [as] an artistic addition to the park,” he said at the time.
Sinclair was scheduled to attend Sunday’s event along with family members of the workers, provincial and municipal politicians and union representatives.
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