Skip to content
Jobs | Contact | Tip line: 705-673-0123

Steelworkers activist Julien Dionne passes away

Dionne, who lost son Rhéal to a workplace death in 2017, investigated workplace deaths for Local 6500

Julien Dionne, a local union activist whose son tragically passed away in a workplace accident in 2017, died June 21 at the age of 70.

Dionne, who retired from the former Inco Ltd. in 2001, was the former president of the Sudbury chapter of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), which represents retired Steelworkers and their spouses.

He was a common sight at rallies during the 2009-2010 Vale-USW strike. 

Just after the labour dispute ended in 2010, he told that he estimated SOAR members barbecued 5,000 hot dogs and hamburgers at union events during the strike.

His obituary said he was a “devoted union activist” who “spent his career developing, co-ordinating and teaching safety and health.”

His only child, 39-year-old Rhéal Dionne, died in February 2017 in a workplace accident while driving a dump truck at Rainbow Concrete. Part of an archway on the property collapsed on top of the truck cab, killing him.

Dionne told us in 2017 he used to investigate workplace deaths for Steelworkers Local 6500. 

“It's kind of ironic that this is happening to us,” he said.

Earlier this year, Rainbow Concrete was convicted of criminal negligence causing death in Rhéal Dionne's death.

Julien Dionne's obituary said he was “passionate in all endeavours,” adding he enjoyed playing his guitar to entertain others (he also did this during the 2009-2010 strike).

He also enjoyed spending time with family and friends, especially his grandson, Noah.

Dionne is survived by his wife Suzanne (Sue) Dionne, grandson Noah, Noah's mother Jessica Lapointe-Dionne, sister Edna Gaudreault and brother Richard Dionne.

He is predeceased by his son Rhéal Dionne, parents René and Leda Dionne, sister Lucille Legault and brother Donald Dionne.

A visitation takes place at the Co-operative Funeral Home on Lasalle Boulevard June 27 from 2-5 and 7-9:30 p.m. A funeral mass takes place at St-Jean-de-Brébeuf Church in Sudbury June 28 at 10:30 a.m. 

Memorial donations can go to Maison McCulloch Hospice, Better Beginnings Better Futures or the Sudbury Food Bank.