Report of the Northern Alberta Geographical Rep to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the November 2015 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.
Northern AB Geographical Rep
Prairie Region Council November 2015
Tansi Brothers & Sisters,
So as citizens we have declared a new government… twice. In May 2015 Albertans and Union members elected a new government. As Albertans we have never seen change in a provincial government in over 40 years. I can actually say I have lived in Alberta my entire life under a Conservative government, till now.
Let’s work together with the NDP government to bring good change to the province, to our communities and to the work force. I must say that the current provincial government has taken steps to actually meet & invited First Nation leaders, for the first time in history, in the province to work together on issues facing First Nation communities. And let’s mention the NDP government has taken another step to help pressure our Federal government on the campaign to an inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
And most currently, October 19, Canadians have made their voices of change heard from coast to coast to coast. We have declared a new Liberal government, with a new Prime Minister and with election promises on all levels to mandate. I do hope our new government will take the needed steps to support the public service that all Canadians need. And I do hope we as a Union can work effectively with our new government to achieve proper job security, collective agreements & job safety. I hear that we need innovation in areas of mental health. And we will strive to complete that awareness for our members.
Since my last report on Feb 2015 there has been much work and promotion focused on the Federal election in Oct. Our Union has been trying to engage members to get active in the election, get informed of the issues at hand, and basically get out voting. The Edmonton Area Council has worked with the Prairie Region to the promotions that Region & National has created to support our members to vote in the Federal election. And Area Council has also taken the step further to inform our communities to vote as well. As an Area council we have created information pieces to engage interest groups who are targeted as people of concern: Seniors, Veterans, Youth, Disabled, the Homeless & Aboriginal. As an Area council we are pleased that we did an Election debate for one of the targeted ridings in Edmonton- Griesbach. The debate was well received and had members & community engaged in the topics to the election.
In the region we had many successful 19 Minute campaigns leading to Oct 19. And I would like to congratulate all Locals & volunteers for the support to the campaign. It has been a fresh experience for the region & we can take the participation from the events for future planning of possible 19 minute and rally events. I would like to congratulate Edmonton Area council of the BBQ event on Aug 19 for our members in the downtown area. The lead to bring members out to mingle and be informed on Union issues was great to see happen. We can & will advance mobilization within the PSAC & Northern Alberta. We will continue the great ideas PSAC & our grassroots brings to the table for rally support & mobilization. If there are any ideas, please inform myself & the Edmonton Area Council so we can keep members engaged & active now & into the future.
I know the Edmonton Human Rights & Women’s committees have made great strides to be eventful this year in the region. And I applaud all our executive and volunteers who have created such solidarity in the movement of equity and community involvement. Both committees have created good events and platforms for the future of the committees and the region.
Our Women’s committee have taken steps to support our communities. This year the committee has provided a community garden for one of our inner city schools in Edmonton. It was quite the task and support of volunteers that made the task successful. I took the time to come out and volunteer to help with the project & no one could ask for greater weather for that day. This fall the committee also donated school supplies to another school in Edmonton with the Tools for Schools project. And I do know many of our Locals in the Region donated monies to help the Women’s committee drive. Thank you so much for all of your given efforts and volunteer work involved with your projects for the year. And I salute the Edmonton Women’s committee for their continuous support to communities in need. I do call on our Sister’s in the Region to take the time to participate with the committee for future events, rallies and community support. We all succeed when we all share the involvement of our Union community support.
As for the Edmonton Human Rights committee, it has been a year of history for the committee. Not only for the committee, but for PSAC, for the Region and our members. This year the committee has taken a direction of positive messages. The committee has decided that we want to promote messages of hope and understanding, and that equity must be met in the workplace and also within our families and communities. For the year the committee has decided to focus on 2 main events- Gay pride day in June & also National Aboriginal day in June.
The committee worked to participate in the Edmonton Pride day festivities in June. The committee with the support of the AFL entered a float into the parade. The parade had a huge turnout of spectators, including Premier Rachel Notley as part of the parade extravaganza. And I say extravaganza because there were so many people participating and spectating down Whyte ave. And when one has to park 6 blocks away from the event you know the community is in full swing for celebration. Our committee with its volunteers showed their pride and support to the GBLT community, and were a great bunch to watch during the huge parade route. Speaking to volunteers of their stories, many had such surprise of the many grassroots members who were watching and supporting the Pride day festivities. As Pride day grows in success in Edmonton so will our support to this grand display of self-pride for our members, for our GBLT community and the strides to equity.
The Edmonton Human Rights committee also created a new event that displayed awareness for Aboriginal people within our membership, within our communities and within Canada as a nation. As part of our celebration for National Aboriginal day, the committee decided to embark on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and the need of the inquiry that many Canadians have been asking the Federal government to produce. But the committee wanted to create a positive and peaceful message to the horrendous issue at hand. The committee created a walk called A Path of Light, and with the support of PSAC national, Region, Edmonton and District Labour Council, members Components, the city of Edmonton & APTN, the walk was welcomed and happened with great success and awareness. Without the much hard work and volunteers from the locals, from the community, from other Unions, from the Area council & Women’s committees, the Aboriginal communities, our elders, and our families, the event would not have been achieved. Also without our Components donations we would not have proven and shown our support to our missing and murdered Aboriginal women and their families. And I say with an open heart to all our supporters, thank you. We started a movement for our Union to take further to all our members from coast to coast to coast. We have given light to a dark matter in our country. We have given light for our missing Sister’s spirit and support for the families who continue to search for their missing loved ones. Thank you for allowing us to participate with our Aboriginal community to remember and celebrate our brave Sister’s.
Here is a brief description of the task that we produced for the A Path of Light event:
I would like to bring an event to light to the Northern Alberta community, to which I live in. This event is happening June 20, 2015 in Edmonton Alberta and welcoming all Canadians. Its purpose is to commemorate the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. And voice a message of hope for their spirit.
On June 20, 2015 we, the Edmonton Human Rights Committee of PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada), are inviting all Canadians to join us in a walk commemorating Our Aboriginal Sisters. We are walking to commemorate the spirit of our missing & murdered Aboriginal women. It is time we honour the lives of our Aboriginal women, and that is why we have named the walk- A Path of Light.
Our walk is set to give the opportunity for our First Nations, union members, organizations & communities to work together in a positive way. To celebrate together as Canadians the spirit of our missing sisters. And as a unity we can bring their spirit to the light. Maybe as a voice together our government will hear a call of action to our Aboriginal sisters.
This year Edmonton is one of the satellite cities for the APTN broadcast of the National Aboriginal day event. We have been invited by APTN to participate with them with the National celebration of Aboriginal Day on June 20 here in Edmonton. APTN has respected our walk & the message we are trying to produce to Canada. So as a joint effort APTN is asking us to walk to the APTN concert event in McKinney Park to come together in honour & celebration of our Aboriginal sisters. As part of our participation APTN will give our walk & participates a Grand entry & honour song to welcome us to the APTN celebration. And with that honour many across Canada will be watching us coming together in awareness for our Aboriginal sisters.
Here is the structure to our event for the day on June 20:
Phase 1 – Blessing at Kihciy Askiy (formerly known as Fox Farms)
Phase 2 – At 10amGathering at the Legislature where we will have opening prayers, remarks from our guest speakers, and a march.
Phase 3 – Start our procession to Louise McKinney Park, stopping on the way for a BBQ lunch
Phase 4 – Proceed to Louise McKinney Park where we will be honoured by a Grand Entry as we merge with the main event of the APTN crowd.
How our event came to be was our Human Rights committee was challenged to produce events for the year that will be a positive reflection to our members & community. So I, Murray Pruden, member of the committee, had an idea that would jumpstart the committee’s action to creating a walk for National Aboriginal day. One Sunday morning, after watching the West block with Tom Clark, the show Context with Lorna Dueck was airing. And her topic for that day was the issues on missing & murdered Aboriginal women. After watching that show & the topics that were discussed I thought- We need to help our Sisters out of the dark. So I thought that as activists we can create an event to celebrate our Aboriginal sisters, create unity in our communities & give a Lighted path for our sister’s spirit. That they’re not alone or forgotten. And a message to Canada- maybe the world, that the human spirit can come together and fulfill a respectful event for our First Nation peoples. I, Murray Pruden & co-facilitator Genevieve Babineau presented the idea of a walk to the Human Rights committee, and here we are today coming together on June 20 for a walk, on the path of light, for our Sisters, so they will not be forgotten.
The symbol we have created for the event is a campfire. The fire is burning at the base with wood, embers, ash & rock. And the smoke rises to the sky above. We all start on a path in our life, and we all carry on through different means on our path in our lifetime. But at the same time we all have the same path, like a campfire. We are born on this earth, and then we pass on & carry on to our next path to the Creator. Our prayers are carried to the Creator by smoke. A fire starts by a spark and then rises to smoke in the air to our Creator. We may have different paths; however we like the smoke rising from a fire go to the Creator. The colors in the smoke are Blue, to represent the waters, Green, to represent the land, and Red to represent the fire. But our other element Air is there too. Though you cannot see it, it is there bringing the other three elements together in the rising smoke. A Path of Light is then created to welcome all people together and to welcome the spirit of our missing sisters.
I also attended the PSAC Triennial Convention in Quebec City. Here is my report:
It was a long convention in Quebec City. And as an observer I was restraint from voting on some important issues at hand during the convention. I believe there was some good & not so good made at the convention by the delegates from across Canada.
The one resolution that passed at convention was Gen-145 Regional Racially Visible Conference. I believe that this resolution needed further discussion & amendments. The reason why I say this is the idea of having a conference, regionally for one equity group, and only one is discriminatory in acceptance by PSAC. The other issue at hand is, there are not enough active Racially Visible groups across Canada to hold said conferences. There are apparently only 3. There has been no active involvement by the groups, and I mean no active volunteer committees to have delegates to attend in Canada. I believe, the first step is to have members volunteer their committees, and then ask for regional conventions. I believe convention made a quick judgment to accept this resolution & after speaking to other equity groups that have active committees feel rejected by the resolution. The racially visible group has missed a step in the process to committees & now we have to pay for regional conventions for no reason & purpose for the next 3 years.
During convention I was busy interacting with different caucuses & meetings, and invited events to discuss my issues with Aboriginal leadership in the PSAC. I must say I was disappointed with the turnout of Aboriginal members attending the Aboriginal caucus. The main reason why I was disappointed was there was no Aboriginal youth in attendance. These youth are the ones who will carry on the Aboriginal representation in the PSAC. I also felt set to the aside by membership from the Aboriginal leads at convention, especially when I was discussing the Aboriginal walk we are creating for June 20 in Edmonton. So I see now there is no communication between our National representation & the grassroots. And this will need to change swiftly. I am currently taking the time to further discuss action to get Aboriginal youth involved from the prairies with our youth rep Nate from the prairies. We have 3 years to get them involved.
I did enjoy the convention. And I was busy with discussions, meetings & events that I felt important to my members. I did not have much time to see the beautiful city as others did because I wore a hat for many different committees & needed to ensure I was getting the right invested ideas from the right people & groups. I also have new opportunities to work with other members on a plan to start a new campaign for alliance & we have taken the time to start interaction on the ideas, and hopefully present to the PSAC in the future. I do hope I will attend the next PSAC convention & I do hope to attend as a delegate. I must also say that the PSAC convention was very component driven. I believe a convention at this level needs to be more Alliance driven to salute solidarity rather than group vs group ideals. One can hope that the means will be in place for the next convention.
This year I had the pleasure to be a participant of the UDP- Union Development Program. I completed the program and have met and made great friends within the program. We continue to support each other as activists and leaders across Canada. Part of the program gave me the opportunity to have mentors supporting me like Marianne Hladun & my personal mentor Teresa Eschuk from the prairies. I also had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop in Ottawa on Activism through Street Theatre. Street theatre can be used effectively to propagate social and political messages and to raise public awareness regarding critical issues. Street theatre breaks the formal barriers and approaches people directly in a variety of creative ways. The 3 day workshop allowed us to show our generation of leaders the skills to promote art activism in our Union. The UDP has proven the need to collect the minds and trust of our members together to strengthen our act of solidarity. And I know from this moment on, the members I have embraced within the UDP will be my brother’s and sister’s for a lifetime. Thank you to the PSAC and the UDP for molding us as leaders.
There has been so much work done within this year and yet so much more to do within the region. I do hope to continue the much needed work within the Northern Alberta region. I will continue to promote to the PSAC the Edmonton Humans Rights campaign- A Path of Light. I have received 3 requests from the West coast & North groups to help support them with this campaign for their regions. And I do hope to promote the campaign to the rest of the Prairies region. This past Oct 4, was the Sisters in Spirit vigil with the Native Women’s Association of Canada. And with their organization I created a candle light vigil for my community in Smoky Lake with the help of the United Church of Canada. At the event I spoke of the A Path of Light campaign. Many people attended, even a family from Fishing Lake travelled 2 hours to participate in the event. So this proves that as members of community and activists we can create a message for movement within the community and within our Union. On that day of Oct 4, I made a promise to the Creator that I will not stop my campaign of A Path of Light for our missing Sister’s until we have a successful inquiry made by our government.
I will continue to work with the PRC to create more effective communication methods for our region rep’s and grassroots to use to keep the network alive and informed. It is an issue we as members have embarked on for some time and with time we will better our communication networks within the membership and region. I do call upon our grassroots to contact me to with ideas to help invest in our future as a Union.
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, and next year, 2016, 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.
As I stated in my last report, 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 as change has occurred in Canada it is now time to make our government accountable to the needed support of public service and labour work force. We took the step to change but now we must now actually act on that change. We cannot stand idle and let important decisions on our livelihood go unanswered. Remember to support your bargaining teams as best you can. And as a union we can keep the important changes alive for the betterment of labour rights. “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic and we will change the world”- Jack Layton.
Murray K Pruden