Regional Women’s Committees Representative
As I write this report for convention I am pleased to let you know we have strong and viable Regional Women’s Committees in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. Your sisters are active and they are making a difference in their communities – a fact we should all be proud of.
I have only been the PRC representative for Regional Women’s Committees for a year as I moved up from the alternate position when Sister Nancy Johnson accepted a position at PSAC. But, it has been an interesting year and I know the past three years have seen our sisters active in a host of programs and projects.
In the midst of this past three year cycle we had a change in government at the federal level and provincially in both Alberta and Manitoba. While two of those changes should be positive for us all three bring with them challenges, altered dynamics and a new way of thinking and planning as we move forward with the agenda set forth by PSAC nationally.
There is no question child care and domestic violence continues to be the main focus for the women’s directorate nationally. However, they are far from the only issues our sisters have engaged in. Economic security for women of all ages is an emerging issue and it relates directly to the anti-poverty and childhood hunger work undertaken by our sisters and their allies not to mention a decent standard of living for senior women who way too often live out their lives in relative poverty. Clean drinking water for all Canadians is also a growing concern for our sisters
Across the region our sisters have addressed all these issue in a variety of ways but make no mistake they have all made a difference.
In Edmonton we have helped support a community garden, in Winnipeg a breakfast program at an inner-city school and in Saskatoon a summer snack program with each designed to combat hunger in children.
At our regional conference in 2016 our sisters raised over $1200 in support of a local women’s shelter that is in the final stages of a major expansion. A keynote address to the conference by the shelter’s executive director brought home to us very clearly why it is so important that we take the issue of domestic violence and its spill over into our work places seriously.
During this mandate many of our activist sisters across our components took part in an intensive PSAC forum on Domestic Violence at Work from which will flow the direction in which we will move as an organization on this issue. Our Edmonton RWC has already hosted a workshop on this issue in late 2016 and there is much more to come as PSAC rolls out a coordinated campaign and educational package.
Our fight for a national child care framework continues. We have been at this for over four decades and we will continue to fight in support of our future generations. Our Calgary and Lethbridge RWCs in late 2016 developed a wonderful post card campaign based on familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes that project had a significant impact. That campaign is a prime example of what can happen when you encourage a group of women with a cause and active imaginations to think outside the box.
Battling hunger and poverty will always be of concern to our members. I am pleased to report that the RWC in Winnipeg was able to connect with the West Central Women’s Resource Centre and provide them with $2100 in social justice funds to help equip their new kitchen. The equipment will allow the center to provide more meals to clients and support programing including how to get the very most out of a food bank hamper.
By the time you read this report we will have concluded the 2017 National Equity Conference. While at the time of writing I do not know how many prairie women were able to attend I do know over 80 applied – an amazing number. As your RWC representative in the region I was selected to be a member of the resolutions committee for the women’s section of the equity conference.
As we move into the next three year cycle I believe our RWCs are strong, viable and in growth mode. We have new members who are coming forward and as our demographics continue to shift we have to be creative in how we encourage members to engage and become involved.
Personally, as I write this report, I have reflected over the past 40+ years that I have been an activist for the rights of not just women but for their families and indeed our broader communities. I believe economic security is the root that makes us grow and prosper and if we can make headway here we are making a giant step forward.
I am retiring later this year and will embark on the next phase of my busy life. Make no mistake I will still be involved in working to make this world and our small slice of it a better place for all of us to live. I see the future in the faces of my three amazing grandchildren. For the youngest who is my only granddaughter I think I will save one of prized possessions from my activist days – the t-shirt that says “Nasty Woman”.
To each and every sister who I have come in contact with and yes to the brothers who have supported us – thank you from the bottom of my heart and keep up the great work you do in the name of our union.
I would be remiss if I did not say a massive thank you to our staff that has been so supportive. While most have helped me in some way I feel I must say a special thanks to Tracy Thor and Shelly Jamieson – two extraordinary women who have kept me on the straight and narrow more time than I can count. Their guidance and wisdom has been invaluable as we have worked to support our sisters and our membership - I am proud to call them both my friends.