Just days before the Miners Memorial weekend, Ginger Goodwin’s grave has been desecrated.
Carlos Flores made the discovery June 15, when he visited the gravesite to “clean up and repaint the tombstone” of the iconic leader of the local labour movement, in preparation for the annual weekend commemorating the storied history of Cumberland.
The red hammer and sickle on the head of the tombstone, symbolic of the socialist movement, had been completely removed, with what Flores deduced was acid.
“The dark streaks are probably muriatic acid with which the vandals tried initially to remove the red paint from the symbol and it didn’t work; so they probably came back and used a chisel to erase it.”
Flores said an inspection of neighboring tombstones indicated that Goodwin’s was the only tombstone vandalized, and insinuated a targeted act.
“No other grave has apparently received the criminal treatment inflicted to the memory of one of the most cherished and important labour leaders in B.C.,” he said, via email. “This was not a random act; it was delivered, persistent, targeted and planned.”
“Canada is not immune to the awakening of neo-fascist ideologies, extreme right-wing political parties, and intolerant and racist ideologies that have gained [a] foothold in Europe and the U.S.”
“I’m very disappointed to hear what has been done to Ginger Goodwin’s gravesite,” said Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird. “It’s unfortunate that people feel so strongly that they want to desecrate someone else’s property. I know he is a controversial figure, but he is part of our history.”
Flores performed a makeshift repair to the tombstone, although he suggested the damage done was beyond repair.
“I repaired what I could, but the damage to this historical site is probably irreparable.”
“He has done a nice job of trying to repair it and we certainly thank him for wanting to do that,” said Baird.
Goodwin is honoured with a graveside vigil every year as part of the Miners Memorial weekend. Baird said that tradition will continue Saturday at 1 p.m. She expects this act of vandalism to galvanize the community.
“It’s going to mean more to the people that are coming [to Miners Memorial weekend],” said Baird. “They will be upset when they see what has been done, because it hasn’t all been [repaired]. They will hear what was done, and it will be upsetting to many people.”
The 34th annual Miners Memorial, presented by the Cumberland Museum and Archives, June 21-23, is “a celebration of workers and their families, and a call for a renewed commitment for safe and healthy workplaces, justice and equity, and bread and roses for all.”
For a complete schedule of events, go to minersmemorial.ca