Deb Kosteniuk PRC Report November 2019

Deb Kosteniuk


Prairie Region Council November 2019


RWC’s were active across our region this summer and fall.


The Winnipeg RWC continues to struggle but were able to hold a meeting and submit a resolution or two to the Prairie Region Women’s Conference.   The committee lost an executive member in October, due to a housing and employment crisis.   The committee has selected a delegate for the National Women’s Conference.  The committee participated in Committee Training.


The Edmonton RWC remain very active.   They also submitted a resolution for the Prairie Region Women’s Conference.      They are focused on completing their objectives and projects for 2019.   They are working on their childcare campaign; it has two components:  the “Game of Life” and a lobbying action.  They are also completing their VAJ (Visual Artistic Journal) project and working towards IWD in 2020. The Committee participating in Committee Training


Calgary submitted two resolutions to the Prairie Region Women’s Conference.  They have elected an RWC delegate and named an alternate for the National Women’s Conference.  The Sisters in Spirit Vigil event was held October 4, 2019.  They will be planning a knitting crochet evening in early 2020 and then planning for IWD.   The committee participated in Committee Training.


Lethbridge RWC submitted 8 or 9 resolutions  to the Prairie Region Women’s Conference.  They have chosen their delegate for the National Women’s Conference.  There were plans for a Sisters In Spirit Vigil October 4 and they are working on a Coutts/Lethbridge Food Bank drive.  The RWC together with AC are involved in a letter writing campaign related to the provincial government budget cuts.  The Committee participated in Committee Training.

Regina RWC:

Regina RWC  were unable to provide any resolutions to the Prairie Region Women’s Conference.  They were the host committee for the Conference and did a fabulous job.  They have chosen their delegate for the National Women’s Conference.  They are working on a project with the Love Lives Here Bus, which is an outreach service operated by a Christian non-profit organization that originally provided prostitutes on the streets with food, shelter, clothing and support – it has now grown to include anyone on the streets needing these things.  The Committee participated in Committee Training.

Saskatoon RWC:

Saskatoon RWC  was unable to contribute any resolutions to the Prairie Region Women’s Conference.   They have chosen a delegate and an alternate for the National Women’s Conference.  They handed out election platforms of the parties; they are working on Redress and are thinking of collecting dresses and hanging them on the bridge and determining if permission from City of Saskatoon will be needed; they are working on a Christmas family (call out to membership for families in need) project that would see a PSAC family receive support from Saskatoon RWC;  PSAC open house/grand opening happens Nov 7 4:30 to 7:00 p.m..   Committee is participating in Committee training Nov 7 and 8.

PRC Women’s Rep activities:
May/June/July/August/Sept – Prairie Region Women’s Conference Planning Committee teleconference meetings throughout the summer

August 20, 28 2019  Attended SIS Vigil Planning Committee Meetings

September 4 – 9 Prairie Region Women’s Conference

September 16 Calgary RWC meeting; discussed report I did on the Prairie Region Women’s Conference and the upcoming Committee Training

September 19 attended PRC teleconference meeting
October 30, 31  Committee Training



The 2019 Prairie Region Women’s Conference Report

Date / Location

September 6 to 9, 2019 at the Delta Hotel, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Steering Committee

The steering committee was comprised of Chairs/Vice Chair from each of the Regional Women’s Committees in our region, plus the Prairie Region Council (PRC) Women’s Committee Representative. Planning began in March and the steering committee met several times by teleconference before coming together on September 4th to put the final touches on the Conference, meet as the Resolution Committee, and prepare to welcome members.  The Steering Committee members were:

  • Kim Cardinal, Chair, Edmonton RWC
  • Deb Kosteniuk, Chair, Calgary RWC and PRC Women’s Representative
  • Sherry Hunt, Vice Chair, Lethbridge RWC
  • Michelle Lang, Chair, Regina RWC
  • Corinne McKay, Chair, Saskatoon RWC
  • Sheilagh Hanson, Chair, Winnipeg RWC

Conference Theme and Objectives

The theme was “Building Women’s Power for Change.” Conference participants were encouraged to learn from each other, build relationships, and to plan for the future. Participants were able to identify barriers women members face regarding union participation and learn the avenues available within the union to address workplace issues.  It helped women learn how to find and connect with other women members; developing their confidence so that they felt empowered to mobilize women members to create workplace change.
Conference Workshops:

Gender Equity Task Force session:

Identifying Barriers and Developing Solutions

In December 2017 the National Human Rights Committee made a recommendation to create a task force on gender equity within PSAC. The task force’s objectives are to assess the participation of women in PSAC at all levels of the union, identify barriers to women’s participation in the union (with an emphasis on barriers faced by women from equity-seeking groups), evaluate the impact of existing PSAC equity initiatives, engage women members, and make recommendations to improve gender equality and women’s participation within PSAC.  This session focused on concrete solutions for increasing women’s participation within the union, including young workers and women from equity seeking groups. Input and ideas generated by participants will help inform the final report and recommendations of the Task Force.

Workshop on Building Women’s Power for Change:      

This workshop focused on ways to better engage and empower women activists at all levels of the union. Participants were invited to identify political priorities and develop strategies to mobilize women PSAC members to advocate for these issues through different structures in the union (e.g. campaigns and political action, bargaining, regional and workplace committees, representation and workplace advocacy, etc.).

Workshop on Effective Activism:

This workshop focused on our understanding of what activism is, the various levels of activism and how to find activism that you are comfortable with.  We learned we can be activists in many different ways and empower ourselves so that we are not intimidated by things like visiting our MP’s, writing letters, holding rallies.  We also discussed fresh ways to show our activism.


There were 40 delegates and 3 observers at the Conference.   

Our Elder

Brenda Dubois was the Elder who lead us in opening the Conference and she closed the Conference on Monday as well.  As she said, she doesn’t do traditional prayer, but her words were powerful and effective.

Key Note Speaker

Sister Barb Byers, former CLC Secretary-Treasurer, former SFL President and former President of SGEU, this feisty feminist and life long activist is still working to make the world more feminist, inclusive, just and peaceful.  Barb is fearless in her activism, and to prove it we included a news article in the kits that has a picture of her being arrested very early on in her union career.

The Panel Discussion and our Panellists

We held a panel discussion with four female activists from Saskatchewan, who talked about how their path to activism has led them to the roles they hold now. 

Nicole Sarauer is a young lawyer who moved from private practice in 2011 to a local charity that provides free legal representation to those needing access to the justice system.  In 2012 she was elected as a Trustee of the Regina Catholic School Board.  In 2018 she was elected as an NDP MLA for Regina Douglas Park.  She is also the Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition, and previously held the role of House Leader.  She was the first woman Leader of the Saskatchewan NDP 2017 – 2018.

Deena Kapacila began her activism at age 12, after attending SFL camp.  Her activism continued in University, when she ran for and won Vice President of Operations and Finance for the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union; the only woman to have held that role in the last 15 years.  She is now the SFL’s Ready for Work Coordinator, active in CUPE and the fight for 15 in Regina.

Lori Johb is the current President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour; she spent the previous 4 terms as Secretary Treasurer.  As SFL President, she is able to work closely with all affiliated unions to advance the rights of working people.  She is a proud SIEU-West member that is passionate about worker safety and has held many positions related to health and safety, such as board member, trustee, and committee chair. She has vast experience as a facilitator.   

Dodie Ferguson was raised on the Cowesess First Nation of Saskatchewan and learned the importance of land stewardship at an early age.  She is an active member of CUPW in Regina, currently serving on their National Human Rights Committee, and facilitates a variety of educational workshops for the Prairie Region.  She is a Vice President of the Regina District Labour Council, representing Indigenous people within the Regina community.


Carm Chan, an Edmonton RO Regional Rep; Karoline Klug, our Regional Education Officer from  Winnipeg; and Dianne White, a Calgary RO Regional Rep facilitated much of the conference. 

Meera Chander, Women’s and Human Rights Programme Officer, Ottawa and co-facilitator

Deb Kosteniuk, Prairie Region Women’s Committee Representative, presented the Gender Equity Task force workshop.

PSAC Staff at the Conference

Monika Duggal, our Conference Administrator, is from Winnipeg but has been assigned to Regina for a term while Keith Gauthier is on parental leave

Lisa Garnier, Prairies Regional Coordinator from Winnipeg and our Harassment Coordinator

Special Guests

Marianne Hladun, Prairie Region Executive Vice President

Magali Picard, National Executive Vice President, PSAC

Marianne joined the Conference by Skype earlier as she was in Ottawa for the PA bargaining session.  After it ended, she arrived Sunday morning ready to lead us in our Resolutions debate.

On Saturday Magali gave us an energetic, dynamic talk – pretty much the way she always is!   She discussed how her own activism developed and the path it took her down.  She answered  questions from the floor after her speech.  

The Venue – Delta Regina

We enjoyed beautiful weather in Regina for the conference, right up until Monday when it rained.

A Meet and Greet was held Friday night, where we were served appetizers, roast beef and ham.  There were some lovely desserts and a cash bar.  We learned that Sister Michelle Lang and her negotiating team had negotiated a successful settlement for the members of her DCL with Casino Regina. 

This year breakfast and lunch were served at the conference.  The hotel did a great job offering a hot breakfast on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as well fruit, yogurt, muffins and pastries for those wanting just a continental breakfast.  Excellent coffee, tea and fruit juices were also on offer.   The lunches were great, with a hot lunch served on Saturday and then a cold one on Sunday.  Again we had a wide selection of fruit and dainties for dessert and the same beverages available for breakfast were offered at lunch time.

Having these two meals together as a group allowed everyone to network and really get to know each other. 

In Appreciation

I want to thank our regional office representatives, our regional education officer, our admin staff (Monika and Keith) for all the hard work they did to make the Conference come together in a way that was seamless.   Even the music and videos played during the conference were carefully selected so that women’s empowerment was never out of our thoughts.  It was touches like that, plus the wonderful facilitating skills of Carm, Karoline and Diane that made the conference special.  Meera made a huge impact as our new Women’s Programme Officer. Monika was our conference admin extraordinaire!   She is such a detail person and was quick to get anything the least bit “off” fixed and back on track – she worked hard, hard hard!   Lisa Garnier was there behind the scenes, working her magic too.

I want to thank Michelle Lang and her host committee for the great job they did handling the Conference registration duties, their knowledge of all things Regina, their fun gift bag draw that raised over $1400 for Sophia House, the women’s shelter they support.  She also lead a drive for striking sisters out on the picket line that saw us raise just under $500 before we got the news they too were now off the line – but they will appreciate the donation, because everyone knows when you are striking, you are not earning your regular pay.

Sister Marianne Hladun donated a pair of  burgundy sparkle ball Hillberg & Berk earrings for the Conference.  The Saskatchewan Federal of Labour (SFL) and Hillberg & Berk have partnered to support victims of domestic violence in the province. SFL is  the exclusive sellers of burgundy sparkle ball earrings, with proceeds going to the Provincial Association of Transitional Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATH). I believe they have raised something like $15,000.00 for this cause.  Sister Trudy Turnbull won the earrings.

I would also like to thank all the members of the Steering Committee – it was their input that helped make the Conference what it was.  During each teleconference their ideas and suggestions were carefully noted by Karoline and she and the other facilitators worked hard to make sure they were incorporated.  Each steering committee member personally dedicated her time and attention to our meetings, and we all worked together to make this a conference a great experience for the attendees. Each of the steering committee members did a diorama that showcased some of their RWC’s activities.  They were first shown at the Meet and Greet and then were available for viewing in the plenary room.  The work we do with RWC’s is something that we should all be proud of. 

Lastly, we didn’t do a lot of swag this conference.  There was a decision that we could be better served by donating some of those funds to the shelter and ask participants to bring personal hygiene or undergarment items.   Marianne Hladun, our REVP, agreed so a $500 cheque plus all those items women donated (which I am sure is equal to about $500 as well) will go to Sophia House, the shelter supported by the Regina RWC, our host committee.   Our REVP did provide us with beautiful “A Woman’s Place is in Her Union” Rosie the Riveter denim bags, which were a big hit with the women attending the Conference.

Lastly, thank to the women who registered for and attended the Conference.  Their enthusiasm, enjoyment and engagement made the Conference itself sparkle. 



Deb Kosteniuk

PSAC Prairie Region Women’s Committee Rep