Sometimes, when a person works for a long time in an organization, things come full circle in a way that makes things right, even it it doesn’t change the course of events. This is a story about that.
We all took some time to remember workers who have lost their lives on the job on April 30, the official Day of Mourning. As always, we gathered at the Richmond School District Works Yard for a minute of silence in honour of these individuals.
This year, there was someone missing and something special added. The added part had to do with the dedication of a meeting room. This room is upstairs, above the warehouse and shops, and it has a sleek executive look to it. The walls are paneled, the table is large, the seats are comfortable and the room has the latest in audio visual bells and whistles.
This room, as you can see, is pretty nice looking, and it was dedicated to Reynold Sokolik as part of our Day of Mourning. Reynold was missing from our ceremony, though he always led the Day of Mourning event. He took workplace safety seriously, and held many union leadership positions across the province in this area. From 1986 until he passed away from natural causes in the fall of 2010, Reynold worked for the Richmond School District in Maintenance and Operations. He was a icon, born in Richmond, schooled in Richmond, and a long-time employee. We all knew him, and he really was larger than life, though this cliche doesn’t capture how unique Reynold really was.
Reynold and I went way back, because he was in junior high when I started teaching, and even then, everyone at school knew Reynold. He was only 14, but he had presence, and would stand up to anyone, including the principal, if he thought something was unfair. At the same time, he was caring by nature, and in those days he looked like a very tall cherub.
He was a big guy, and thought nothing of slinging 4 or 5 large mail bags over each of his arms and sauntering back to the district mail truck he drove, exchanging commentary as he went. He was our own renaissance man, curious about everything, and with opinions on it too, and he wasn’t at all shy about sharing them. Once you met him, it was impossible to forget him, which made it even harder when we had to let him go. We weren’t ready for that.
Reynold’s sense of caring and justice led him to his active role in workplace safety, so it seemed fitting to dedicate Reynold’s Room on the Day of Mourning. Reynold would be the first to say he wasn’t an executive meeting type, but I think he would have enjoyed having the chance to hold forth in his meeting room once in awhile. Reynold’s Room will remind us all to be kind, take care and look out for each other. He couldn’t have left us a better legacy than that.