Blue Lung

© Maria Dunn, 2007

Inspired by the experience of Lillian Wasylynchuk who passed away in March 2009 at 71 years of age after a seven year battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Lillian worked for several years at the GWG clothing factory (1956 – 1963) and believed that her lung disease was caused by exposure there to the dust from the denim fabric.


Where I come from, we work hard, we don't make a fuss
So I can't be afraid of a bit of blue dust
When my family needs me to pay the bills
Maybe I'm not so ill

I see now from the photos, some women wear masks
And I can't help but wish that I’d done more than ask
But ours were the days when you did what you're told
You could only be so bold

If I could speak to my younger self
I'd say: “never risk your precious health
And don't assume that they've thought of you
In your air of denim blue”

Now if I had toiled in a coal mine
Where the earth itself compresses your time
Then maybe I’d think of lung disease
But a clothing factory?

Our fingers, our air, tainted blue
And someone joked that our blood must be too
But when the dust settled, I'm sad to say
It took my breath away

Maria Dunn vocal, acoustic guitar
Shannon Johnson violin