Aboriginal and Workers of Colour came together at the beginning of June to discuss, share and strategize on how to redefine the true faces of our union. The conference, which is held annually, focused this year on advancing an action plan to build a more inclusive union at every level.
140 members came from across the country, for two and a half days to unite for change. While the conference hosted guest speakers, including a representative from Black Lives Matter Toronto, and educational workshops, an emphasis was placed on building an activist network to strengthen Unifor.
The task presented to delegates by several guest speakers was to challenge inequality and racism wherever they encounter it. Keynote Angela Robertson said, “no longer can we work in silos or be silent. It’s time to be bold, shake things up and ask tough questions if things are going to change.”
While the political context in Canada has transformed since Harper was given the pink slip, there is still work to do to advance equity.
“We can’t pretend racism doesn’t exist in our daily lives, it manifests in many blatant forms, but subtle ways too,” said Unifor’s Director of Human Rights and International Department, Mohamad Alsadi.
Speaking to delegates, Unifor’s National President, Jerry Dias, added his own perspective on next steps for the union, stating that Unifor needs to take advantage of this moment to instigate greater change in society. “Things are starting to change slowly,” Dias said. But he cautioned that we cannot become complacent with the current Liberal government. “We must continue to push for change; in fact this is why our union was born.”
Delegates left with new friendships, inspiration and motivation to be unapologetic in building a movement for change. Stay tuned for updates on Unifor’s plan of action to increase representation of equity-seeking groups, in all levels of the union.