Well, it’s been a year, hasn’t it? Another trying, tiring year. It can be hard to see the light during these short days and long nights of winter, but often the glimmers are there if we look for them. We combed back through the months of 2021 to find you some good news, and what do you know? We found plenty!

Partners digging deep

In the face of their own economic challenges, many partners and sponsors found a way to support families affected by workplace tragedy. And we saw some very creative approaches too!

  • Alcumus adopted Threads of Life as a charity of choice, sharing four volunteer speakers’ stories at employee and management events, and raising close to $2500 for their fundraiser through Canada Helps.
  • Ontario Petroleum Contractors’ Association managed to hold a golf tournament this fall — their EIGHTH in support of Threads of Life! Over those years they’ve raised more than $60,000!
  • The Manitoba branch of Emergent BioSolutions launched a health and safety program, with donations to Threads of Life in recognition of the site’s success in risk reduction.
  • Franco-Nevada agreed to match year-end donations to Threads of Life, dollar for dollar.
  • TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) made a grant to the Threads of Life speaker’s bureau to support youth safety education.
  • Kruger made a donation of $2500 to recognize a year with no lost-time injuries and no recordable incidents.
  • The Barwick division of West Fraser held a fundraiser which raised just over $8500.
  • Torino Drywall gave $2500 in honour of Day of Mourning.

And there were so many more! Individuals and organizations fundraised for Steps for Life, donated to Threads of Life and gave in lieu of wedding favours, speaker gifts and retirement gifts. Thank you all so much for supporting Threads of Life’s work!

Looking forward

Poet Ted Kooser wrote “We loved the earth but could not stay”. We all want to leave the world a little better when we go, and this year Threads of Life launched a legacy giving program, encouraging people to leave a gift in their wills. Family member and speaker Alex Tuff shared his brother’s story, and Threads of Life co-founder and safety advocate Maureen Shaw became the official spokesperson for this campaign, sharing her personal story.

New friends and old

Nearly half of the new family members who come to Threads of Life for help, find us because of a partner organization. We count among our long-term partners the ministries of labour and compensation boards across the country, along with countless safety associations and companies who all help to spread the word to those who may need healing following a tragedy.

  • In 2021, Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board became a Threads of Life partner, helping families in the territories access programs and services for their healing journey following tragedy.
  • Mark’s has been a long-time partner of Threads of Life. In 2021, Mark’s Commercial launched a campaign to spread the word to all of its staff and clients.

Volunteers giving and giving again

Can we ever say enough about our Threads of Life volunteers? No! We have more than 300 active volunteers, and in 2021 40 new volunteers joined Threads of Life! Here are a few of the ways our volunteers created good news in 2021:

  • Supporting others on their healing journey as Volunteer Family Guides
  • Facilitating online FamiliesConnect workshops and Family Forum sessions
  • Organizing and promoting Steps for Life walks and other fundraisers
  • Sharing their stories through the speaker’s bureau (see below)
  • Writing blog posts and newsletter articles

In addition, several volunteers agreed to be pioneers in our brand new role of Community Engagement Volunteer. They will be out there soon, spreading the word and making new connections to reach more families and build health and safety.

Stories shared in spite of it all

It’s written right into our Threads of Life values: we believe that sharing our personal losses will lead to healing and preventing future devastating work-related losses. Lockdowns came and went, and our volunteer speakers continued to influence safety cultures with their powerful true stories. In 2021, 22 volunteers made 55 presentations at schools, conferences, workplaces and public events. Many of these were virtual, but a few were in person. Family members also shared:

  • Three personal stories at virtual family forums
  • Five video stories for Day of Mourning and as Steps for Life spokesperson
  • Six brief stories in email messages
  • Nine family stories in our print newsletter
  • Dozens of videos and testimonials for Steps for Life
  • 1,154 stories, comments and likes on social media for Day of Mourning.

Families helping families

Threads of Life’s bottom line is never about money. It’s about guiding people out of the pain and chaos of work-related tragedy, and into greater mental and emotional wellness. And that happens when family members embrace and empathize with other family members — we see it all the time. During 2021, close to 200 new family members came to Threads of Life looking for healing, adding to the thousands who have experienced healing and found hope in the nearly 20 years since Threads of Life was founded. This year we watched as Threads of Life volunteers and families set aside the challenges of distance, reached out to newer members during workshops, and connected with them afterwards. The network of healing, and the glimmers of hope that are sparked by those connections, are the best news of all.

Susan Haldane