Delegates discussed the experiences, lessons and knowledge that they had gained as member-to-member organizers in the recent Ontario elections while at Unifor’s Aboriginal and Workers of Colour (AWOC) conference in Port Elgin on June 15-17. In the last session of the conference, delegates heard from Walied Khogali, a community activist and a candidate in the upcoming Toronto municipal elections.
Khogali spoke of his experiences of growing up in one of Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods, Regent Park, and the lifelong work of living with and challenging racism and Islamophobia.
“The experiences of marginalized communities are often left out or ignored by governments,” said Khogali. “For our voices to be heard, we need Indigenous and workers of colour to actively engage in the political process.”
In the recent Unifor Ontario election campaign, Make it Count, the union had a focus on equity issues and mobilizing racialized and Indigenous workers and women to participate in the campaign.
Unifor members also volunteered their time in key ridings to help support progressive workers of colour to get elected. Unifor helped make it count for these candidates and more: Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches-East York), Sara Singh (Brampton Centre), Gurratan Singh (Brampton East), Kevin Yarde (Brampton North), Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale-High Park), Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest), Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s) , and Faisal Hassan (York South-Weston).
“Progressive and inclusive social change starts with having equitable representation at all levels of government,” said Christine Maclin, Unifor Human Rights Director. “The hard work of our members paid off on election night when we saw a record number of Indigenous and racialized candidates elected.”
There are several other provincial elections in 2018 New Brunswick and Quebec. Municipal elections will be held in the fall in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and P.E.I. A federal election is also quickly approaching, and Unifor will continue to put workers’ issues and equity on the forefront of all candidates and political parties.
If you would like to get more involved in an upcoming campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to your local candidate!