Eighteen months on the picket line. Thirty-eight kilos of explosives. Nine men dead. 20 years passed.
It’s the story that made world news and changed a mining town forever. The Giant Mine strike stands as one of the longest and bloodiest in Canadian history, punctuated by one of the worst mass murders the country has ever seen. For those who lived through September 18, 1992, the scars have never healed. Here are their stories …
On May 22, 1992, a company called Royal Oak Mines Inc. locked out its workforce at Giant Mine in Yellowknife. The union, the local 4 chapter of the Canadian Association of Smelter and Allied Workers, and management couldn’t reach a settlement. Before the strike, it was a good, if finite, time to be a gold miner.
The average worker at Giant was pulling in $77,000 a year, and those clocking overtime were making more than $100,000. But the strike got dirty quickly as rumours swirled of Royal Oak CEO Peggy Witte’s intent to break the union. One thing she did break was an unwritten labour rule in Canada: you don’t bring in replacement workers. No mining company had done that in 45 years. Nevada-born Witte flew them in by helicopter the next day. Continue Reading →