2024 William Davis Miners’ Memorial Day

Today, on June 11th, the United Mine Workers of America pay tribute to William Davis Miner’s Memorial Day (Davis Day) in memory of William Davis. 

On June 11, 1925, William Davis, a 37-year-old miner, was killed when company guards opened fire on a group of striking miners near New Waterford in Nova Scotia. This incident occurred during a period of intense labor strife between the miners and the British Empire Steel Corporation (BESCO), which owned the mines. The miners were striking for better working conditions, fair wages, and recognition of their union rights.

The confrontation that led to Davis’s death took place at a time when tensions between the miners and BESCO were at their peak. The company had a history of employing harsh tactics to suppress labor unrest, including the use of armed guards. On the morning of June 11, 1925, miners were marching in protest when they were met with gunfire from company guards. Davis was struck and killed, leaving behind his pregnant wife and nine children.

William Davis’s death had a profound impact on the labor movement in Nova Scotia and across Canada. His sacrifice became a symbol of the struggle for workers’ rights and the fight against oppressive labor practices. Davis Day serves not only as a memorial for Davis but also as a day to remember all miners who have lost their lives in the pursuit of fair labor conditions. 

William Davis was a dedicated family man, deeply affected by personal tragedy even before his untimely death. He had worked in the Springhill mine, a site known for its dangerous working conditions. His older brother, Thomas Davis, had died in a mining disaster in 1891 at the young age of 14. This personal loss highlighted the perilous nature of coal mining and the urgent need for improved safety measures.

The 99th anniversary of Davis’s death, observed on June 11, 2024, marks nearly a century since the tragic event. Each year, commemorations include ceremonies, educational events, and gatherings organized by labor unions and community groups. These events serve to honor the memory of William Davis and other miners, raise awareness about the history of labor struggles, and advocate for continued improvements in workers’ rights and safety.

Davis Day is an important reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by workers and the importance of solidarity in the labor movement. It underscores the sacrifices made by individuals like William Davis and the progress that has been achieved through collective action. The day also calls for reflection on the current state of workers’ rights and the continuous efforts needed to ensure fair and safe working conditions for all.

As we observe this day, we remember the sacrifices made by miners like Davis and renew our commitment to advocating for the dignity, safety, and rights of workers everywhere.