Roger Warren, the infamous Giant Mine bomber who was convicted of killing nine miners in 1992 workers’ strike has been reported dead.
CBC North reported in an online article on Monday afternoon that after obtaining a death certificate through the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency, it has been confirmed that Warren died in July at age 75 in Abbotford, B.C.
NNSL Media was unable to independently confirm Warren’s death Monday evening.
NNSL Media marked the 25th anniversary of the bombing in a 2017 article.
Warren, who worked underground at Giant Mine, was convicted of nine counts of second-degree murder after confessing to the RCMP that he deliberately planted a bomb 230 metres underground at Giant Mine on Sept. 18, 1992.
The bombing was the bloody culmination of a long and bitter strike that began after Giant Mine workers, represented by Local 4 of the Canadian Association of Smelter and Allied Workers (CASAW), voted to reject a contract agreement the previous spring with owner, Royal Oak Mines, which had taken over the four-decade-old mine in 1990. The mine responded by locking out unionized employees and bringing in replacement workers.
The murdered miners, all of whom employees who had crossed the picket line or were brought in by the mine as replacements, were riding in a man-car when Warren’s bomb detonated. Six of them were from Yellowknife, Chris Neill, 29, Joe Pandev, 55, Norm Hourie, 53, David Vodnoski, 25, Shane Riggs, 27, and Vern Fullowka, 36. Also killed were Robert Rowsell, 37, Malcolm Sawler, 38, and Arnold Russell, 41.
Patrick Scott, who was a CBC reporter on and off between 1975 and the mid-nineties, was working covered the evening that Warren was arrested.
“I was covering it and did the first national radio story on it,” he said. “I do remember that night. I was working at the station and rumours had started to filter out that someone had been arrested and that there would be a press conference.”
Scott recalled that a press conference was held in a public library conference room. He said he didn’t know Warren, but knew his family and lived next door for a period to Pandev.
“It was a pretty shocking night,” Scott said. “Roger changed his community for a long time by doing what he did. But personally I have never put all the blame on him. I would put more blame on the owner of the company Peggy Witte than on the union for reacting. She did everything she could and was really never challenged except by the union to undermine all those workers.
“Scabbing is always inappropriate and Yellowknife didn’t know how to handle it.
“Some workers crossed the picket lines because they were desperate financially. We all know what living in Yellowknife is like and Roger was one of those desperate guys.”
Bill Braden, who was a reporter with the Yellowknifer from 1990 to 1994, said Warren’s actions leaves with him “a bitter feeling about him” to this day calling the bombing “beyond the pale.”
The man’s death closes a chapter in the city and mine’s history, he added.
“The whole thing left such a deep scar for everybody who was here at the time,” said Braden, who added that he hadn’t known him personally but knew of him as an “average guy” who had some involvement with local hockey teams.
“Somewhere along the line in the toxic stew that was the whole labour situation, he twisted and did an awful thing.
“I have one recollection and that is that it shook the town that one person would have conspired to do this on their own.”