The Watering Hole Blog



Tue Jan 31, 2012  – Between 2000 and 2010, there were 10,743 workplace fatalities in Canada*. “This is unacceptable,” says Maryanne Pope, widow of Cst John Petropoulos, a Calgary police officer who succumbed to head injuries sustained after falling through an unmarked false ceiling on September 29, 2000.

“As John’s widow, I think one workplace fatality is one too many,” says Pope. “Ten thousand is shocking. As Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, this stat tells me we all still have a great deal of work to do to get these numbers down.”

There was no safety railing to warn John – or anyone else – of the danger. He was searching a warehouse during the investigation of a suspected break-and-enter. There ended up being no intruder in the building. John was 32.

More than a decade later, the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF) works to raise public awareness about workplace safety issues facing emergency responders. The Fund’s 5 TV ads have aired well over half a million times and the 10-minute safety video, Put Yourself in Our Boots, is being shown in safety meetings, conferences and community presentations.

Another way Pope is striving to achieve this is through her creative non-fiction book, A Widow’s Awakening. It was published through her company, Pink Gazelle Productions, in 2008 and has sold over 1500 copies. With the audio version now available, the author hopes to reach more people with her message about the importance of safe workplaces. “A Widow’s Awakening,” Pope admits, “is not an easy read, I realize that.”

Click here to hear a short audio clip (1 min 30 sec) from A Widow’s Awakening.

“You almost want to apologize,” wrote Michael Platt of the Calgary Sun newspaper, “reading Maryanne Pope’s account of her husband’s death. So vivid is her description, you feel like an intruder…a voyeuristic journey both heart wrenching and uncomfortable.”

“But by demonstrating the reality,” Pope explains, “of the immense personal impacts on the loved ones left behind after a workplace fatality, it is my hope that more people will take a moment to stop, look around their workplace from the perspective of an emergency responder who may have to attend during an emergency, and ask themselves: is it safe…for everyone? If not, then make a change.”

“If people make their workplaces safer for emergency responders,” concurs Ian Wilson, Managing Director of the JPMF, “they also make it safer for everybody, including their own employees, visitors and service workers.”

Sadly, A Widow’s Awakening often strikes an all too familiar chord with readers. “I have been reading your book and want to say thank you,” wrote Sherry Smith. “Like you, I lived it. The love of my life was killed at work in September 2000, when he fell putting up rafters for a building. He was 52. I miss him so much and it still hurts. Your book is a wonderful gift…somehow I don’t feel so alone.”

Sherry isn’t alone. Unfortunately, there are thousands of Canadians struggling to put back together the pieces of their lives, left shattered when a loved one went to work and never came home again.

For further information on the JPMF or to view the TV ads and safety video, please visit

Review copies of A Widow’s Awakening (audio and print) available upon request. All proceeds from the sale of the book through the JPMF go to the Fund.

*Source: Association of Worker’s Compensation Boards of Canada

To book an interview with Maryanne Pope, please contact:
Ian Wilson
Managing Director, John Petropoulos Memorial Fund
(403) 891-4269
– or-
Sarah Hourihan
Media Relations, Pink Gazelle Productions Inc
(403) 620-5440

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