Unifor LGBTQ activists from across the country attended the third Unifor national pride conference from May 10-12 in Port Elgin, Ontario.
The more than 80 delegates attended a series of panel discussions led by LGBTQ activists, received bystander intervention training and had the opportunity to discuss current issues affecting queer and trans workers.
National President Jerry Dias spoke of having a conference where LGBTQ members can come together to engage, learn and discuss the multifaceted issues facing the LGBTQ community.
“I am thankful to be in a room with our LGBTQ Unifor members who embody the union’s commitment to equity and social justice,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “I am always amazed by the work that can be done by a dedicated group of LGBTQ trade unionists.”
Refugee activist Carlos Idibou personal story of fleeing persecution in the Ivory Coast led what was to be a busy Saturday. “Refugees are bold and brave,” said Idibouo. “Only a bold and brave person would speak out against injustices and risk everything they have for an equitable world."
Idibou outlined the struggles he encountered as a refugee in Canada and what workers can do to support refugees.
Delegates also heard from Sociologist Dr. Morgan Holmes and Tammy Bonney, parent of an intersex child, on what it means to be intersex, how intersex people navigate the world and how best to support the intersex community.
“Unifor is the first union and organization to my knowledge to have a conversation on understanding what intersex is and how best to be an ally to intersex people," said Dr. Morgan Holmes.
Rajean Hoilett and Nicole Desnoyers community activists conducted Bystander Intervention Training for conference delegates. “As active bystanders, you must decide if you will speak up, step in, or offer assistance to those impacted," said Desnoyers.
The training offered activists the tools and resources when witnessing hateful situations.
Sunday morning delegates broke up by region to discuss current issues facing queer workers and start planning for local pride events.
“This conference has allowed LGBTQ members to have space where queer members can feel safe, welcomed and open to discuss any issue affecting our community,” said Dana Dunphy, Unifor Ontario LGBT Committee Chairperson and Hospitality and Gaming National Executive Board Member.
“LGBTQ members are not present only during pride events but are active in all aspects of our union. This conference has strengthened our activism and furthered our motivation to get back to our communities and build the equitable society that we all desire,” continued Dunphy.
Delegates left informed, connected, and committed to go out and bring Unifor’s dedication to social justice to communities all over this country.
This conference, like all of the work of the LGBTQ regional standing committees, is part of the vital work that Unifor is doing to promote equity, challenge homophobia and transphobia within our union and communities.
To learn more about the efforts underway in Unifor or upcoming pride events, please visit www.unifor.org/pride.