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Vernon Theriault was off shift when the Westray mine exploded in 1992, killing twenty-six men in Plymouth, Nova Scotia. Theriault took part in the perilous rescue operation that followed, as the small community hoped against hope that survivors would be found. As the magnitude of Westray took hold, Theriault found himself struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares. When he tried to re-educate himself for another line of work, he discovered that he was both illiterate and dyslexic. Theriault found new purpose when he became part of a labour movement that successfully lobbied the federal government to bring in a worker-safety law that became known as the Westray Bill.Theriault collaborated with his cousin Marjorie Coady to write this book, which contains colour photographs as well as excerpts from the report of a judicial inquiry that called Westray “an accident waiting to happen.” Theriault describes what it was like to work underground in the mine and takes readers through the harrowing rescue, which recovered fifteen of the twenty-six bodies. Theriault openly discusses his complicated journey in this straightforward, simply written memoir, which begins with the promise of a good job with good pay at Westray.
My story is about a coal mine in Plymouth, N.S., Canada. May 9/92 there was an explosion that rocked the community at 5:18 am killing twenty-six co-workers. I’ve just lift ten hours before the explosion happed, I was working an overtime shift (May 8/92 8:00 am to 8:00 pm). May 9/92 my regular shift started at 8:00 am, around 10:00 am that morning I was going underground as bare face rescuer. No sleep for five days, my last rescue shift at Westray followed me home. Issues that I deal with, Nightmares, Survivor’s Guilt and PTSD. Rehabilitation after all my appeals with WCB, I was appointed a counselor to visited my home March 1993. My gold was to try to Educate myself, but known it was going to be hard. Because I couldn’t read or write, illiteracy. 1994 receive the Medal of Bravery. 1995 learn that I had dyslexic. March 1997 seniority back at Trenton Car Works, hired June 1981, lay-off 1986. 1998 joined the local union (United Steelworkers). 1999 asked by our local union to go to Ottawa, for USW. National Policy Conference in Ottawa. 2000, 2002, and 2003 seeking Justice, lobbying the Lawmakers in Ottawa. 2003 big day came, Westray Bill, passed into Law. I started working on my book 2002, sixteen years later after putting words on tapes, paper. 2014 Marjorie Coady (my cousin) helped me write my book, Nimbus Published my book July 2018. This story everyone ought to know, told in the simple words of the man who lived it, me! (Vernon Theriault)