Friday, May 1 community members and friends of the Cumberland Museum & Archives will come together to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of working people around the world.
Since its inception in 1997, Workers’ Day Bean Supper has become an anticipated annual community gathering in Cumberland.
While International Workers’ Day, May 1, isn’t an official holiday in Canada today, it held a significant spot on the calendar for the miners and other workers throughout Cumberland’s history; and is celebrated as a national holiday in more than 80 countries around the world.
This year’s event will feature musical guests Trinitude, a Celtic-folk family trio from Nanaimo whose repertoire includes traditional and original songs inspired by the lives of Vancouver Island miners. There will also be a special excerpt performance from the upcoming TheatreWorks play Threads of Change about the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 in New York that killed 147 workers.
Of course there is the main course: the bean supper. During the 1912 strike, miners evicted from company houses were forced to live with their families in tents on “Striker’s Beach”.
As a compassionate gesture, or perhaps as a way to deflate rising tensions, the provincial government sent boxcars of dried navy beans for the strikers and their families. Big Strike Beans kept them alive over the long winter.
For our supper the beans are accompanied by corn bread, cole slaw and a dessert, and perhaps a glass of something from the Cumberland Brewing Co.
This year will also see a revival of the May Day parade: a joyous, radical celebration of all working people and those who struggle for a better world. All are welcome to bring banners and picket signs, costumes and flags, instruments and noise makers and gather at the village square at 5 p.m.
Together with the cast of Threads of Change, the parade will move west along Dunsmuir to the parking lot behind the museum.
This is an event for everyone. After all, most of us spend a significant portion of our lives as workers of one sort or another.
Workers’ Day Bean Supper takes place at 6 p.m. at the Cumberland Cultural Centre. Tickets are only $15 for museum members and $20 for non-members. To purchase tickets visit cumberlandmuseum.ca or stop by the Cumberland Museum and Archives.
The parade gathers at Village Square at 5 p.m. and is free.