Report of the Northern Alberta Geographical Rep to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the February 2015 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.
Northern AB Geographical Rep
Prairie Region Council February 2015
Happy New Year 2015! Hello, my name is Murray Pruden the Rep for Northern Alberta. This is my first report to the region and being new to the role & position, I must say there has been much going on within the region but also within Canada. Firstly, I should formally introduce myself, with a brief description of who I am. Information provided is from the PRC website pertaining to my Bio:
“Murray Pruden was elected Northern Alberta Geographical Representative on the Prairie Region Council at the 2014 Prairie Region Convention. He has been actively involved with his union for the past six years, after being approached by a co-worker to take the lead in representing members and bringing forward issues and work safety concerns at his worksite. Since then, he has held various positions in CEIU Local 30851, including Shop Steward and Local Vice-President & President. Murray has worked for the federal government for eight years and is currently employed as a Citizen Service Officer for Service Canada providing important services to Canadians, including EI, CPP, and OAS. Murray is Cree from Smoky Lake and believes strong family, community and cultural ethics are sacred. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, as well as a Visual Arts and Drama Diploma, and loves to participate in theatre and music when he has the opportunity.”
So here is a timeline of my work to date:
June 2014- Nominated & elected Geographical rep for Northern Alberta, Prairie Region Convention.
September 2014- Attended the Prairie Summit & first PRC meeting
At the Summit I had the opportunity to meet a great wealth of leaders throughout our region from components & area councils. From young to old, new to experienced, we had the time to invest in each other’s plans & ideas of our Union & the tasks at hand. With the Summit we heard President Benson speak to our group with insight to the major obstacles & timeline we have as Union leaders. And with that message I have been assigned a member of the steering committee to aspirations of our agenda: protect public services, support our local bargaining teams & support a change in government. Sitting within our Summit I did realize that within Alberta we have a struggle of creating community support to our Union image. And I do put that challenge to the members across Alberta to start speaking up on the positive of what a Union is & has aspired to be.
The PRC meeting I attended & have the privilege to work with many great minds on the council. Everyone has great drive to what we stand as & where we need to go as a council. As part of my new duties within the council, I have been assigned to the Communication committee. And our mandate as per the passed resolution in Prairie Region Convention is to improve the PRC representative’s communication amongst the grassroots. And we plan to meet that mandate throughout the next 3 years.
Sept 2014 to Jan 2015- attended and participated in the steering committee meetings thru teleconference. As well I have attended the communication committee meetings & PRC meeting.
October 2014- premiered & test trialed the documentary film “We Are Wisconsin” with a Local office in Edmonton, AB. The test was to create a platform & reaction/ response to the message brought by the film to the union members. Many who watched the film were reflective to how something so meaningful could happen in our own region. From this trial I will commence to promote the showing of this powerful documentary within the Northern Alberta region.
Dec 2014 to Jan 2015- Attended the Edmonton Area committee meetings & holds a seat as a member to the council. Currently the Area council has created their executive & are in the works on planning the years campaign & budget for the council and members. I highly suggest all interested grassroots members to attend the Area Council as it needs the ongoing support. I currently hold an executive position on the committee as secretary.
Attended the Edmonton Human Rights committee. Currently the Human rights group is working on their plans for the year which include Human rights rally, Pride day, Aboriginal day, and disabilities day for the year. As all committee I do ask our grassroots to help support the human rights committee.
January 2015- I have started to email locals in Northern Alberta as my first contact to the Area. I have attached a copy of said letter. I do hope that my presence within Northern Alberta will be felt within the next 3 years.
I also had a meeting with Edmonton District Labour Council President, Bruce Fafard, in January. We had the time to discuss the current issues our members within Edmonton & province are dealing with, including the insights of a possible provincial election this spring. But we shared our thoughts on a positive outcome & support to our members within our regions & the working relationship with each other, as within our terms in office.
At the end of Jan I attended the Leadership workshop In Winnipeg. Within the 2 days were invested our time understanding what we see as leadership but also the challenges and support a leader has to achieve. And within the workshop we had the opportunity to create networks within our regions so that we can overcome obstacles but help create open communication. This will help achieve agendas & help support events, rallies & a link amongst the members.
February 2015- I am currently attending the CLC Democracy Skills workshop in Edmonton, AB. Attached is my report from said workshop:
CLC Democracy Skills Workshop Feb 6-7, 2015
I attended the Democracy skills workshop in Edmonton, AB & have a great respect of the hard work and effort to the CLC for their success on the agendas of the time spent by all delegates of the workshop. The weekend started with the concentrated overview of the 4 national issues we as unions & activists need to address: good jobs, retirement security, and health care & proper child care.
A few concerns that we as Canadians must understand going into the next Provincial & Federal elections:
- The concerns of harsh risk investments on RRSPs to the point of possibly losing 50% of investment & having no return to retirement.
- 1.7 million Canadian seniors depend on the Guaranteed Income Supplement through the OAS pension.
- There are not enough spaces available for infants & children with disabilities in child care facilities.
The largest concentration that all union members must support is the action to vote & making the effort to get those who support proper work ideals & support the community to vote for the right members to lead our nation.
I attended 3 workshops during the weekend. They each had great discussion about the need to have a stand for proper government and steps that we as activists need to take to support election campaigns that are in our regions that mutually respect unions. The 3 workshops I attended are:
- Building allies locally- the objective to the workshop was to understand the method of building and creating relationships with groups who share similar goals and values. And to always have long term relationships with organizations that are willing to compromise and listen to your values and convictions.
- Inclusive campaigning- the message that was presented by the workshop was to connect with your union, community and workplace. And as activists we need to do more to connect with our communities and organizations.
- Effective campaigning- the workshop was maintaining guidelines on how to create effective campaigning strategies. This ranged from having targets, identifying allies, volunteer engagement techniques, and building your message for a campaign.
During the workshop I had the privilege to meet three hopeful NDP candidates that are running for the provincial & federal elections, Maria Fitzpatrick from Lethbridge East, Janis Irwin from Edmonton Griesbach & Oneil Carter from Whitecourt riding. There are many more candidates who are running for the coming elections who attended the workshop & I do wish them all good luck and send my gratitude for your support to Unions in your regions & across Canada. Make us proud. And together we can protect workers’ rights & promote fairness in our communities.
As mentioned earlier I had started to make contact with the Northern Alberta Region with my introductory email to my constituents & here was my email message:
Tansi & Happy New Year 2015!
Greetings Brother’s & Sister’s, my name is Murray Pruden- Northern Alberta Regional Rep PRC PSAC & I would like to formally introduce myself to the constituents’ for Northern Alberta. I would like to start by saying that I am pleased to represent you all within the prairies & I plan to take my role with as much leverage & responsibility as possible. As members of Northern Alberta, through our grassroots, we have needs & ideas to network with one another & need to communicate to our Prairie Region Council PSAC.
As my mandate within the PRC I do need to take the time to make contact & have open communication with my locals in the region. And my goal within this year, 2015, is to try to make formal contacts with as many Local Components in the region. As I take the time to utilize a network for the PRC & for Northern Alberta I do hope that we as region can communicate & bring to the table any issues or union events that can be shared amongst our members.
We are in a year of change, and it’s very simple to see that change occurring around us every day in Canada. Events such as the economy, oil sands production, job losses in our communities, collective agreements, provincial & federal elections. We as grassroots members & members of the PSAC need to start taking action in the changes to help each other out through our locals, through our communities & especially through families. And as Brother’s & Sister’s we need to work together to get our voice heard in our local areas.
Please take the time to be a part of your union. But also take the time to contact me as your Regional Rep & the Area Council Rep- Ben Lemon to start working together to bring solidarity & the union community together. Let’s be the voice. Let us stand together. And let us be the grassroots of our united union. As a braid of sweet grass we our strong, “Sweetgrass is the hair of our Mother; separately, each strand is not as strong as the strands are when braided together.” ~ quote by Mary Ritchie.
Again, Happy New Year & I wait to hear from you & your Executive, your Local members & our members at large, our grassroots. Take care.
And lastly, to end my report for the Northern Alberta Region I hope to continue to work on my drive to our members for collective bargaining & support in Northern Alberta. And I do hope to report on more communal events & rally support within 2015, including the 19 Minute Campaigns which is alive in Northern Alberta!
When I first attended the Prairie Region Convention in June 2014 I had a feeling of change and movement within me. I walked into the convention hall and admired the size of convention but the size of tables & chairs set for all us delegates and the color of red across the room. And with that image I asked the question in my mind, who are we as a union?
With that question I started to receive the most profound answer. We are the grassroots & define ourselves as the grassroots to the workforce across the nation. But also we are in a cycled time line. See, I have been taught that through generations and with time frames we live in a circular spectrum. Whether it is political, economical, generational, even spiritual we live this circular spectrum- that we always end where we begin.
That in mind, as a Prairie region we are in a historical spectrum of events. As we declare ourselves as the grassroots we are declaring we are people of area, just like my ancestors had declared when signing the treaties with the visitors. As we the grassroots have been stating, “We are in the fight of our lives…”, so have been the First Nations people since the signing the treaty agreements with the visitors. We the grassroots are in collective bargaining based on our worker rights for our wellbeing, our families, our communities and our labour force. So too were my ancestors when they signed the treaty agreements with the visitors. My ancestors fought many battles since signing the treaty agreements, held many hardships & lost cultural freedoms and respect. And I say unto you Brother’s and Sister’s, this is where we are at now with our collective rights, a choice- a choice to overcome & fight for our needs for the better of all peoples in Canada to follow. And with that choice, we have to look at terms of peace & peaceful means within our workplaces & communities.
For you see, we are the grassroots people. We are like my ancestors in this generation- protecting our rights, our wellbeing & our livelihood. Take my wisdom. And let’s be the union in true solidarity as guides & protectors and be the shield to our members and communities.
In Solidarity & with Good Tidings,
Murray K. Pruden
Northern Alberta Geographical Representative