Every day of the year, Unifor activists of diverse backgrounds organize to improve their workplaces and their communities. Black History Month is a time to reflect on the unique challenges of some of our members and celebrate the ways in which they have and continue to resist.
During the month of February, Unifor highlighted the work of a handful of powerful local activists, including Shereta Bowers from Kitchener, Ontario of Local 1106 who emphasized the importance of future generations in discussions of racial justice. Hopeton Hague from Local 1997 in Prince George, B.C. talked about racialized activists getting involved in the political process and discussed his involvement in the province’s latest election. Both Hague and Margaret Olal, from Local 3000 in New Westminster, B.C are active members of Unifor’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Standing Committee in B.C. Christina Ashe from Local 4606 in Halifax talked about her deep roots in activism and about the importance of racialized communities being in solidarity with Indigenous people. And, finally, Marie-France Fleurantin from Local 62 in Montreal recounted how she was the first black woman in every union position she’s had and how that has reminded her of the importance of building a more diverse union.
Part of reflecting the diversity of the union means addressing the concerns of those members and people connected to them. White supremacy has impacted every aspect of black people’s lives, from the criminal justice system to economic, housing and gender issues. More than ever, the union must be fostering open and deep conversations about how to resist and create a more just and equitable world.
Unifor co-sponsored and helped organize, with The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora and York University’s Faculty of Education, the February 15 public event, “Everyday Activism, Critical Resistance.”
Deb Tveit, Assistant to the National President, said a few words at the event’s opening to express the union’s deep commitment to racial justice before the audience had a chance to hear from award-winning poet, novelist, and documentarian Dionne Brand, Toronto activist Angela Robertson and Robyn Maynard, Montreal community organizer and author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present.
While Unifor considers Black History Month a special opportunity to highlight the ongoing challenges facing black people, including members, it’s also a reminder to keep organizing and resisting throughout the year until there is justice for all.