Delegates from more than thirty Unifor locals gathered on Friday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver to open the union’s fourth BC Council.
The meeting opened with an inspiring welcome from Debra Sparrow, an elder from the Musqueam Nation. Western Director Joie Warnock followed up with a detailed report about Unifor’s activities in the province since the last meeting in 2015.
“We can have a better BC. I know its right around the corner,” said Warnock. “On virtually every policy file near and dear to British Columbians’ hearts, [premier] Christy Clark has failed.”
Warnock said that Unifor will be focusing the talent and skills of member activists in a handful of ridings to maximize input during the provincial election in May.
She also reviewed some of the bargaining successes in sectors like transportation and energy, and pledged the full support of the national union for the sectors facing more difficult challenges to their existence, such as forestry and mining.
In his remarks, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer Bob Orr said that the labour movement is more important than ever because of the resurgence of far-right politics around the world, including south of the border.
Keynote speaker Jack Saddleback shared his story about growing up as a transgendered man, and helped delegates navigate ideas about gender identity, gender expression, and sex.
The day finished with an entertaining keynote from comedian Charlie Demers, who used humour and his own experience with anxiety and depression to talk about the challenges facing those with invisible disabilities.