Across the country this spring, people will be taking part in the Walk for Alzheimer’s, and Unifor members are a growing part of the campaign to support people with dementia and their families.
There are 173 walks scheduled, with most happening this May. Unifor members in Tillsonburg, Woodstock, St Catharines, Ingersoll, and Hamilton have already participated and raised over $25,500, with the funds donated in memory of and under the name of Bob White, the founding President of the Canadian Auto Workers who passed last February after battling the disease.
“Bob White is loved and respected by everyone so it’s a beautiful dedication to him,” said Bonnie Martin, awareness trainer with local 222, about the trailblazing trade unionist who passed away in February of 2017 after battling the disease. “My mother has Alzheimer’s so that’s another reason why it’s special to me.”
Local 222 is joining other Unifor locals in registering their own teams, with their walk taking place in Durham, Ontario on May 27. To fund-raise, on April 6 members organized a plant gate collection at GM Oshawa, raising $4,139.85, and there was in additional donation of $1,000 from Unifor’s Social Justice Fund. Every member can make a donation and support the Bob White local 222 team here.
The first Bob White Walk for Alzheimer’s took place in St. Catharines, Ontario in January with over 200 people walking through Brock University in their red Team Bob White t-shirts. Six Unifor locals, 199, 5555, 636, 504, 88, and 1859 along with national staff representatives participated in the walk. This initial action inspired many other Unifor members and staff, like Kevin McMaster, to form their own teams.
McMaster, local 195 education chair and member of the local executive board, set up a Bob White team for the May 27 Windsor walk after learning of the efforts of Peter Scott, Recording Secretary of Unifor Local 199 and organizer of the St. Catharines team. He put a team together, secured financing from his local to purchase Bob White team t-shirts that Scott had created, and reached out to the Alzheimer’s Society in Windsor.
“We have a bowl fund that we’re doing May 5 where people fill pledges and come and bowl,” said McMaster about the fundraising they’re doing before the actual walk. “My wife and I work at the same facility and we asked them to support us, the company designated this April Alzheimer’s month. First they gave us a rather large sum of cash and then they agreed to run 50/50 draws for the entire month.”
McMaster, Martin, and Scott are all encouraging Unifor members across the country to participate in the walks by either walking with their community, making a donation to Team Bob White, or by entering a Bob White team themselves. Bob White was a Canadian labour hero and Unifor members and trade unionists across the country and around the world were deeply saddened to learn of the passing, but the Bob White teams are just another clear example of how White’s legacy continues to inspire.
Any local Union that would like more information, wants to order Bob White team t-shirts, or needs help setting up a team, can contact Peter Scott from Local 199 at: 905-682-2611 extension 238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org