Deb Kostiniuk Reports
Since becoming the Women’s Committee Representative on Prairie Region Council, I have been working on a letter to introduce myself to the Regional Women’s Committees. Now that I have my RWC Chairs contact list, I will be finalizing the letter and sending it shortly before PRC meets in July.
In May I met, via teleconference, with our REVP and Dolly Ablitt, the Calgary Regional Rep and reviewed the applicants for the Prairie School for Union Women. Charmaine Nelson from Edmonton was chosen as the first recipient of the Judy Shannon Scholarship, which fully covered her costs for attendance (registration, travel, loss of salary). For this year only, PSAC Prairie Region education budget provided subsidies for up to two active union sisters per province to attend the PSUW. The PSAC subsidy covered the cost of the early bird registration fee of $850 and subsidy applicants were expected to approach their Locals and, where applicable, Components, for additional financial support (i.e. transportation, loss of salary).
I attended the AGM of Awo T’aan Healing Lodge Society on June 7, 2017. Awo T’aan organizes the Sister in Spirit Vigil in October, an event the Calgary RWC is proud to contribute to and be considered a partner.
I participated in the June 14th event organized by Calgary Area Council to boycott National Public Service Week. We served 450 Dairy Queen Dilly Bars to members at the Harry Hays Building, passed out hundreds of stickers and flyers talking about Phoenix. Every one or two member out of ten that we spoke had a story about being affected by Phoenix.
On June 24th I volunteered at the PSAC booth for National Aboriginal Week, along with other PSAC members. There was a family festival and pow wow on the former Indian Village site of the Calgary Stampede grounds. Victoria Norris of the HRC organized the event and turned the Wheel into a beautiful display of Aboriginal Art.
The federal government is handing over the reins of its long-awaited inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to five commissioners. They’ll have the power to decide who to call as witnesses and what the review will look like. The commission will also be able to refer cases to the authorities, like the attorney general or police, for more investigation. But they can’t force police to reopen cases or lay charges. I am part of a committee that has managed to secure a meeting with Marilyn Poitras, one of the five Commissioners, in July. Tonight, June 28th I will be in a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the strategy we wish to take when we meet with Ms. Poitras.
When I send out my letter to the RWC Chairs, I will be asking them to let me know what they have been doing since the Prairie Region Triennial. And I will be asking them if they have matters they would like brought forward to PRC. I will also be discussing the national childcare program and how all RWC’s need to plan some kind of activity in support of the program. New initiatives came out June 12, 2017 and we need to show our support.
Women’s Committee Rep
RWC’s were active across our region this fall and winter, focusing on Phoenix issues, childcare, domestic violence in the workplace, murdered and missing indigenous women and children, as well as community projects.
The Winnipeg RWC is very active. They have participated in Phoenix rallies throughout the summer, fall and winter. They participated in the Labour Day Barbecue. September 10, 2017, they, along with other PSAC activists such as Brothers Frank Janz and Gus Mardli visited the Shoal Lake 40 First Nations Reserve. Shoal Lake 40 has been on a boil-water advisory since 1997. There were no Sisters in Spirit Vigil planned for Winnipeg, but the RWC participated in the Take Back the Night March in October. They have planned various charitable drives throughout 2017 into 2018: school supplies, feminine hygiene products, and an underwear drive for Centre Flavie Laurent for example. They were involved in coordinating donations of beds from the Summer Games to two centres that they support. They planned events for the 16 days of Activism against Gender-based violence and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. They participated in the A Women’s Place is in Her Union PSAC training course. They are involved in a Ju Jitsu course at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre offered on Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m. Their AGM was held January 9, 2018. They participated in PSAC committee training January 17, 2018. They had a large presence at the Winnipeg Women’s March held January 20, 2018 and the event received very good media coverage. Reports state 300 to 500 people marched and rallied in Winnipeg.
The Northern Alberta RWC is also very active. For 2017 spring, summer and fall, they did a community garden project that saw the harvests from the garden going to Seniors in need through the SAGE (Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton) program. September 16, 2017 they held a Childcare Seminar and Rally. They had 15 participants for the seminar and they called locals prior to the event to promote it and gain attendees. Morna Ballantyne was one of the key speakers. For the Rally, they reached out to allies such as Public Interest Alberta, Edmonton District Labour Council, the CLC, and other unions. Kirsten Strachey of Calgary RWC was in Edmonton and participated in the Rally with the women of the NA RWC. They planned a campaign called Food for Women – with the idea money raised would be used to purchase grocery store gift cards that would be donated to women in need sometime before Christmas. They had raised $1000 for that project by mid October and were personally calling locals for donations. They presented a Wreath for Remembrance Day. They joined affiliates for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women at the AFL They are planning a 2018 childcare campaign “What’s Your Story” with the idea that a FB page or website be developed to start personal conversations around childcare. They participated in the January 20, 2018 Women’s March – Edmonton had around 1,000 participants for the March. The March was well covered by media.
We participated on a “Burned by Phoenix” boycott NPSW event at the Harry Hays Building June 14. We participated in the Aboriginal Day Family event June 21, manning the PSAC booth and talking about MMIW, potable water issues, Jordan’s Principle. We did an email campaign asking all locals and components to wear orange shirts for September 30, 2017. We were a presence at the October 4 Sisters in Spirit Vigil, and made a financial contribution to Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society, the Vigil organizers, for the bagged lunches given to Vigil participants. We organized and held a Grand Opening event for the new Calgary Regional Office October 12; we were pleased to have Sister Robyn Benson in attendance for that. We organized A Women’s Place is in Her Union Retreat Nov 24 to 26/17 together with Dolly Ablitt, our Regional Rep. It incorporated the PSAC course “A Women’s Place is in Her Union” along with two workshops; one on domestic violence and the other on MMIW. We had 20 register for the event, with four dropping out due to illness. We started with Friday night registration and welcome event featuring a Raclette Supper, the course on Saturday and the workshops and lunch on Sunday. The course utilized three of our members who are AFI facilitators which was wonderful to see. The RWC “catered” the Friday night supper and Sunday workshop lunch ourselves. Starting November 25 and ending December 6, we did a Facebook campaign for the 16 Days of Activism on Gender Based Violence, utilizing our Calgary RWC page. We did not hold a December 6 event but let members know about events being held by our allies in Calgary. We did an email campaign to components and locals asking for participants for the Women’s March and several members of our committee participated in the Women’s March on Jan 20/18. 3500 marched in Calgary and there was very good media coverage.
Lethbridge RWC put on a strong show for the 2017 Women’s March and have remained involved with March On Canada, posting March On Canada items of interest on the PSAC Prairie Regional Women’s Committees page throughout 2017 and into 2018. Like many other women across the Prairies, our Lethbridge RWC women are involved with, or part of Area Council. In Lethbridge the LDAC sponsors PSAC members in the Rotary Dragon Boat Festival in June. If there were not committee members rowing a dragon boat, they were there to support and cheer on their fellow PSAC members. Lethbridge RWC again supplied a bouncy castle for the Lethbridge Labour Day Picnic, which always is a huge crowd pleaser. Committee members made a financial contribution and attended the Lethbridge Sisters in Spirit Vigil on October 4. They participated in the University of Lethbridge Women’s Centre Menstruation Drive, donating tampons and pads to the cause. They donated funds to the Persons Day Breakfast to cover the cost of a speaker at the event. They attended the YWCA Take Back the Night event. Lethbridge did not plan an event for December 6 but were planning to join a Vigil offered by an ally. They did a holiday giving project, with the women of the committee knitting caps and scarves for sisters in need. Lethbridge RWC Secretary-Treasurer Krysty Munns organized the Lethbridge Women’s March On Solidarity Rally on January 20. After the Rally, a Living Library Event was held. It was a forum for attendees to learn more about programs, organizations and people that work with women in the community, plus a workshop about bystander intervention; a multimedia installation art project on Lived Experiences of Syrian Refugees and the Kairos Blanket Exercise. While the participation in the Rally was smaller than in 2017, the Living Library was well attended and both the parts of the day received a lot of media coverage.
The Regina RWC led their third MMIW Mother’s Day Walk in Regina and is planning for the fourth and final Mother’s Day Walk and a possible feast for MMIW in 2018. They have had very good success with holding self defence courses for women, and they continued that success with their Women’s Self Defence Course in September, 2017. From that they donated $400 to Sophia House, made up of the trainer and participant fees. RWC members attended two Sisters in Spirit Vigil activities: the Feast at the First Nations University of Canada and the MMIW Candle Light Vigil at the RCMP Depot. December 9, 2017 the RWC participated in an All Committee Meet and Greet for locals and affiliates like Regina District Labour Council and Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. They had a spoken word poet at the event and those attending were asked to bring a non perishable food item for donation to the Food Bank. Michelle Lang, Chair of Regina RWC, organizes and participates in rallies and events as much as possible. She has organized and help lead Phoenix Rallies, SFL campaigns and rallies against her Provincial government’s actions, helped to organize the CBSA rally in Regina on December 19/17 and I know committee members participate in these rallies and events RWC members volunteered for the Unions of Regina Christmas Dinner on December 20, 2017, and the RWC made a financial donation to help cover costs of the meal. Regina RWC has held discussions about the resolutions passed at the EO Conference and the Prairie Region Triennial recognizing the need to lobby delegates at National to see these resolutions come into being. Michelle Lang, Chair of Regina RWC is one of the two women’s delegates to National Triennial. I am looking forward to her lobbying efforts on behalf of Prairie RWC’s.
October 28 RWC held a Women’s Social with the objective of recruiting membership for the RWC and possibly resurrecting an RWC in Prince Albert. This was an opportunity to invite participants in the “A Women’s Place is in Her Union “ course (held Oct 29) to attend the social and learn about the RWC. Leila White, Chair of the Saskatoon RWC did a presentation about the mandate of the RWC and their plans for 2018. After that she co-facilitated a wellness exercise, “Laughter Yoga.” Leila also participated in part of the workshop the next day and answered more questions about the RWC. They held a December 6 event discussing the murder by misogyny that occurred in Montreal in 1989. The murdered women were remembered by reading of their names and there was a discussion on the importance of remembering them annually as well as how important it is to continue working to protect sisters from violence against women. They are supporting Moon Time Sisters and their drive to collect feminine hygiene products to women and girls in need – the RWC will promote by doing a poster and mail out to the locals. Saskatoon RWC intends to broadcast meetings live on Facebook to allow women who would like to participate who cannot come to the office for a meeting. The broadcast could also be reviewed by any committee member post meeting for feedback and input prior to the next meeting. They have also set dates for their 2018 meetings – they will meet on the third Tuesday every other month, starting January 16, 2018. This RWC is rebuilding after a short period of inactivity; many of the events they planned for 2017 were not implemented. They are working on building the RWC into an active and dynamic entity in 2018.
June 14/17 – participated in “Burn Phoenix” activity
June 21/17 – participated in Aboriginal Family Day event
July 7, 8/17- participated in PRC meeting
Sept 11/17 – chaired Calgary RWC meeting
Sept 19/17 – issued PRC Women’s Committee Newsletter to Prairie Region RWC’s
Sept 28/17 – participated in Edmonton RWC meeting by teleconference
Oct 2/17 – participated in PRC teleconference call
Oct 12/17 – participated in Calgary Regional Office Grand Opening
Oct 17/17 – participated in Lethbridge RWC meeting by teleconference
Oct 18/17 – attended CCAAC Annual General Meeting by teleconference (3:00 to 5:00 p.m.)
Oct 18/17 – attended Calgary Human Rights Committee meeting
Oct 25/17 – attended Calgary and District Area Council meeting
Oct 26/17 – attended Winnipeg Tri-Committee meeting by teleconference
Oct 30/17 – chaired Calgary RWC meeting
Nov 16/17 – attended Calgary tri-committee meeting
Nov 24 to 26/17 – attend A Women’s Place is in Her Union Retreat
Nov 29 – Dec 2/17 – attended PSAC National Leadership Training
Dec 3, 4/17 – attended PSAC National Human Rights Committee meeting
Dec 18/17 – attended IWD panning committee meeting by teleconference
Jan 11/17 – attended IWD planning committee meeting by teleconference
RWC’s were active across our region in the fall, winter and spring doing activities that support women in our membership and our communities.
The Winnipeg RWC is struggling; the chair had been unable to hold a meeting since last October and was finally able to hold an AGM on March 20, 2019. Their goals for 2019 include participating in the National Day of Remembrance Brunch, donating towards the MFL Christmas Tree, The Provincial Council of Women’s Gala and participating in the region wide No More Fairy Tales/childcare.now campaign. Chair Sheilagh Hanson hopes to take the RWC in a more political direction.
The Edmonton RWC is very active. They raised funds and purchased underwear, socks, gloves and bus tickets for Kindred House, they laid a wreath at the Remembrance Day Service, and they attended the AFL Brunch for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. They held their AGM and Open House in December, 2018. Much thanks to Patti Jessome and the past executive and welcome to Kim Cardinal and those taking positions on the 2019 Executive
Calgary held “A Union’s Place is in the Movies” night in September. We watched Norma Rae and the realization of the conditions of workers and the lengths some companies went to stop organization of workers was our main topic of discussion. October 4 was the Sisters in Spirit Vigil; we donated $1000 towards the bagged lunches for participants and took part in the Vigil. This Vigil continues to grow larger and stronger each year and is now receiving mainstream media attention. In December we organized a toy drive for the Women’s Centre of Calgary, and got $1500 in toys and gifts from locals in the Calgary area. The RWC members then volunteered in the toy room, helping women pick toys for their kids and then also getting mom a nice gift as well, wrapping them for them. We participated in the Women’s March in January. March 8, 2019 we, together with other unions and the Women’s Centre of Calgary, held a potluck dinner and celebration for International Women’s Day. Our May 10th Bear Witness Day supporting Jordan’s Principle was a great success, attended by a large number of PSAC members at the Harry Hays Building, PIPSC members, some management and even members of the general public. CRA’s employer driven equity committee celebrated the day as well and advertised our event to all members and management. Our executive remains unchanged from 2018.
Lethbridge RWC women are strongly involved in AC, and the two often meet on the same evening. Lethbridge RWC again supplied a bouncy castle for the Lethbridge Labour Day Picnic, which always is a huge crowd pleaser. Committee members made a financial contribution and attended the Lethbridge Sisters in Spirit Vigil on October 4. They participated in the Person’s Day Brunch on October 10. They donated $300 towards CIU Coutt’s food basket project. They held a social in December, and also participated in Write for Rights that same month. They participated in the Women’s March in January and served cake to members for IWD in March. Lethbridge has been progressive, with the Chair position being co-shared for a time and now being held by Kris Slattery.
The Regina RWC led their third fourth and final Mother’s Day Walk in 2018. I believe they held a pancake breakfast in conjunction with the walk. They participated in a Candlelight Vigil at St. Paul’s Cathedral for December 6th. They did a donation for White Pony Lodge to make up gift packages for women working the streets; the packages would contain items like mitts/gloves, scarves, condoms and socks and also reach out to unionized hotels to donate toiletries to the packages. They have had very good success with holding self defence courses for women, and they are looking to continue that with another course in 2019. Michelle Lang remains chair and has a great Executive behind her.
Saskatoon RWC shows good rebuilding of the committee after a period of inactivity in 2017 into early 2018. They acknowledged Orange Shirt Day Oct 30th, advocated for attendance at the LGBT Networking breakfast, learned about Babes Who Brunch and empowerment of women; participated in the childcareforall.ca campaign on November 20; contributed to and participated in the Seasonal Social put on by Area Council; they retain their involvement with Moontime Sisters and the donation of menstrual products and are looking to participate in the MMIW walk in May 2019. Leila White has stepped down as Chair, and Corinne McKay is the new Chair.
PRC Women’s Rep activities:
Sept 2018 – participated in RWC A Women’s Place is in Her Union Movie Night
Sept 2018 – participated in Unions Work For Women course in Regina
Nov 2018 – participated in political action training in Winnipeg
Nov 2018 – attended PRC meeting
Dec 2018 – attended National Human Rights Committee Meeting
Dec 2018 – attended/participated in the Toy Drive drop off, Christmas Social Night
Dec 2018 – volunteered at the Toy Room, Women’s Centre of Calgary
Jan 2019 – attended IWD planning committee meeting
Feb 2019 – attended IWD planning committee meeting
March 2019 – teleconference call with steering committee for Regional Women’s Committee
March 2019 – attended IWD event
March 2019 – participated in lobbying at my MP’s office
May 2019 – participated in May Day rally, gave speech
May 2019 – sent out newsletter to RWC chairs
May 2019 – attended Bear Witness event
** Varying dates between Sept 2018 and present – worked on reviving “No More Fairy Tales” childcare campaign; various calls and emails throughout period
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
PSAC Prairie Region Women’s Committee Rep
RWC’s were in various stages of activity this winter:
The Winnipeg RWC held their annual general meeting on December 3, 2019. They have chosen a delegate for the PSAC Regional Triennial. They are planning their budget and 2020 events.
Edmonton has formed two sub committees for childcare: one is working on the “Game of Life” childcare campaign and the other was setting up a winter childcare lobbying event with 7 MLA’s. They did a team building outing on November 28 by going to dinner and then attending the CLiFF movie festival held by the AFL. They held their fourth and final Visual Artistic Journey Workshop on November 30, 2019. Together with the other regional committees, they held an open house in December. On January 15, 2020 the regional committees held their annual general meetings, with all positions on the Committees up for election. They have chosen their delegate for the PSAC Regional Triennial.
Calgary held their second Toy Drive from November 28 to December 12, 2019 with all donations going to the Toy Room at the Women’s Centre of Calgary. Over $1500 in toys and gifts for moms were donated by PSAC component local members. 7 women from the RWC volunteered on December 16, 2019 at the Toy Room, helping 48 women choose presents for their children and themselves. They held a meeting February 3, 2020 and chose their delegate for the PSAC Regional Triennial. The committee is now working on IWD plans. Calgary RWC will be holding their AGM in March 2020, on a date that falls after IWD but before March 31, 2020.
Lethbridge RWC held their first Commemorative Brunch in honour of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 7, 2019 and it was a huge success. They held a meeting and social on January 16/20 where they chose their delegate for the PSAC Regional Triennial. Their AGM is scheduled for March 10, 2020.
Regina RWC held their AGM on January 16, 2020 and elected their delegate for the PSAC Regional Triennial. They were finalizing getting the donation from the Regional Women’s Conference to Sophia House and completed Project Love Bus. They discussed attending the Women’s March January 18, 2020.
Saskatoon did a Christmas Family project where locals nominated families. They chose one family from the nominations and did Christmas shopping and gifts for the family. They participated in a PSAC Christmas Social with the Area Council. They held their AGM on January 21, 2020 and selected their delegate for the PSAC Regional Triennial.
With respect to the National Women’s Conference, we had a phenomenal response to the call out for delegates. 182 women applied. But it was disappointing to see many of these promising candidates fail to fully complete the application by answering all the questions asked of them. These questions are in the application for a reason and should not be ignored or answered with monosyllabic responses. I believe RWC’s could play a role in educating those members that identify as women on how to make an impact when filling out these applications. It is something I will be putting to the chairs of the Committees.
PRC Women’s Rep activities:
November 15-17, 2019 PRC Meeting in Regina, SK
November 30, 2019 Rally Against UCP at their AGM in Calgary
January 13, 2020 National Women’s Conference Steering Committee
January 20, 2020 Reviewed 182 applications for delegate status for the
National Women’s Conference with REVP Marianne Hladun
January 30, 2020 PRC teleconference call