Sean Friesen, the young worker representative who attended the CLC Political Action Conference on behalf of the PSAC Prairie Region, blogs about his experiences and the impact the event had on him.
I arrived in Toronto on March 21 on the back of a terrible late season storm, which blanketed the Alberta Capital Region. Toronto greeted this poor prairie boy with little fanfare, but I arrived with two goals in mind for my time at the CLC Political Action Conference.
- Step out of my comfort zone
- Meet and network with members from the PSAC and CLC
I made every possible attempt to step out of my comfort zone, from taking the subway to conversing with random delegates I met throughout the conference (in reality, conversing with anyone from the conference was easy). At one point during the Young Workers Forum on the first day, I was literally rapping about the labour movement. If you can track down the video, you should watch it. (On second thought, don't. It’s a great story, but no one needs to see that again.)
Kevin Millsip, co-founder and director of Next Up, a leadership program for young people, embraced the idea of stepping outside your comfort zone. Kevin spoke at the conference and intrigued me from the onset because of how he looked and spoke. He had a unique dress that was all his own and a plain but meaningful way of speaking that was thought-provoking. One of the many ideas I took from Kevin was the “fear of failure holds us back” (I tweeted it).
How can we ask members to help out with a campaign or a project, if we are too afraid to see it come to fruition? Where is our motivation? Everyone is afraid, it’s a natural human instinct, but our mistake is being consumed by it. Be out there! Some of my best learning experiences were from people like Kevin. Reminds me of a time someone handed me a small stone that said “Be a little boulder" (Get it? Bolder, not boulder? Ah, forget it).
Once I had set the momentum of getting involved in just about everything I could, I set to work on my second goal. I wish I could say I met 1,500 people during the conference, but I didn’t (although I did meet and get a photo with Tom Mulcair!). What I can say is that I really connected with the people I did meet.
The other PSAC Prairies delegates, who I spent most of my time with, made a true impact on my experience and personal goals within the labour movement. If ever there was such a thing as “stacking the deck”, this team was it (Shannan, Jesse and Paul). They made me realize true networking means more than just shaking hands and taking phone numbers. There is a certain level of connecting, listening and learning from each other’s experiences.
Each of them encouraged me: whether it was Shannan’s true sense of activism and making a difference (the power of social media); Jesse’s humility, especially with such an incredible story behind him (I’ll be here when you bring "Howard’s Law" to Alberta); or Paul’s strong determination to stand up for what he believes in and encourage others to do the same (I’m proud to have stood up with you during the Elder's blessing at the beginning of the conference). These three made this weekend more meaningful than I possibly could have imagined and I can never thank them enough.
Thank you PSAC for this amazing experience. You can be assured I took everything I possibly could have from this conference and will share what I learned with members in my Local and on the various committees I participate in.