NBoD Report (October 8-11, 2013)

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the October 8-11, 2013 meeting. This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.


REPORT OF THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, PRAIRIES
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS

October 8-11, 2013

This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

What has the union done for me?

This is the question we set out to answer on our 18-day road trip from Edmonton to Winnipeg in August. I had the privilege of travelling to each location to personally speak with Prairies members and discuss their stories and experiences on camera. Within three weeks, we interviewed 43 people in eight different cities across three provinces, spanning Component and equity lines.

For this project, we’re not only putting faces to the work we do, but the experiences we’ve had. We want to preserve our stories and be able to share them with current and future members, as a reminder of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

We’ve already released a short trailer as a preview of what members can expect from these videos in the future. The official videos will be released at varying intervals over the next year under a variety of themes. Each video will be an important resource for us to teach members about our history and build solidarity.

The project was produced with union labour, as we enrolled Shaun Roemich of Road Dog Media (Canadian Freelance Union – CEP 2040) as our videographer and editor. Brother Shaun has a long history of union activism and works regularly with labour bodies such as the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, among others.

I encourage you to visit the PSAC Prairie Region website to view the videos as they are released and to share them with other members and friends. The stories in these videos may come from the Prairies, but the values are ones to which we can all relate.

Alberta Solidarity

Earlier this summer, Banff, Canmore, Calgary and much of Southern Alberta faced devastating flooding and evacuations. PSAC has more than 4,300 members living in Southern Alberta. More than half work right in the downtown core, which was completely shut down for an extended period of time, including the Harry Hayes Federal Building.

Not willing to stand idly by while flood victims dealt with the aftermath of the disaster, PSAC members took action. In Lethbridge, members assisted with a Flood Relief Concert. PSAC Local 30048 supplied the volunteers for the event and ran the concession. The event raised $8,740 with more than 250 people in attendance.

Several volunteer days were also organized. In Calgary, members volunteered at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre, a shelter that offers assistance to homeless and at risk individuals. PSAC sponsored the Friday evening meal and 25 members served 950 meals to patrons of the shelter. In High River and the Siksika First Nation, members helped with cleanup efforts to rebuild communities and repair damages to houses and personal property.

Additionally, PSAC Prairie Region teamed up with PSAC’s Social Justice Fund to establish the Alberta Solidarity Fund. We raised $22,800 to provide support to community-based organizations, Aboriginal communities, inner city neighbourhoods, and community partners. Thank you to all of the Components, Area Councils, Committees and Locals across the country who donated money and helped us provide assistance to the most vulnerable communities in Southern Alberta.

Festivals & Festivities

June was a month of Pride celebrations across the Prairies. In Lethbridge, members set up a PSAC information booth during Lethbridge Pride Festival and marched in the parade. The Regina Human Rights Committee sponsored and participated in Queen City Pride, while members of the Winnipeg Human Rights Committee marched in the Pride Winnipeg parade. Pride Calgary happens annually in September and the Human Rights Committee once again marched proudly in the parade.

Also in June, members of the Northern Saskatchewan Regional Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle were instrumental in organizing a community round dance for National Aboriginal Day on June 21. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to weather, but was rescheduled for July 13. Billed as the “World’s Largest Round Dance Ever”, the event was a success and members were proud to take part.

During the Red River Ex in Winnipeg, members volunteered at the PSAC information booth setup from June 14-23. Hundreds of patrons visited our booth to spin the “We Are All Affected” prize wheel and discuss how cuts to public services are affecting their communities. It was a great awareness and information event, with positive feedback from guests and members alike.

For the third year in a row, the Calgary Area Council and Human Rights Committee participated in GlobalFest, a multi-cultural and international fireworks festival, with support from PSAC’s Social Justice Fund. PSAC members partnered with UFCW members to set up a joint-booth, engaging festivalgoers with prizes and information. The HRC and AC participated in all five evenings of the festival, including as a co-sponsor of the Human Rights Forum under the topic of “Multiculturalism in the LGBTA Community”.

Edmonton Regional Women’s Committee members handed out hundreds of balloons to children at the K-Days Parade, while Regina Area Council members did the same at the Regina Dragon Boat Festival. Area Council members also handed out information on public services and spoke with parents about the implications of the ongoing cuts.

For Labour Day events, members are always at the forefront of activities happening in their area, recognizing the important contributions of workers. The Lethbridge Regional Women’s Committee worked with the Lethbridge Area Council to host a Labour Day BBQ. In Calgary, the Area Council and Human Rights Committee partnered to provide a tent at the annual BBQ. The Prince Albert Area Council donated to their local event and members volunteered. For the BBQ in Saskatoon, the Area Council set up a table and handed out “Public Services are Cool!” tattoos, as well as “We Are All Affected” balloons. In Winnipeg, the Canadian Labour Congress and Winnipeg Labour Council put on a Labour Day event for the first time ever. PSAC was proud to sponsor the inaugural event, which by all accounts was a huge success, serving nearly 1,000 people.

Committee & Council Activities

It’s that time of year for our annual Tools for Schools fundraisers throughout the region. The Winnipeg RWC, as well as the Regina RWC, HRC & AC, each ran successful fundraising drives to collect school supplies and donations for inner-city schools.

Saskatoon RWC members have been very busy this summer. Sisters have been volunteering on a weekly basis to care for the PSAC plot at the Saskatoon Community Garden. The garden is in its third year, however this is the first time participating for RWC members, who have harvested carrots, beets, beans, corn and tomatoes for donation to the local food bank. Another weekly activity for the community was the Summer Snack Program. Each Wednesday, Sisters prepared and distributed healthy, nutritional snacks to kiddie pools and parks in the core neighbourhood.

The Lethbridge RWC supported the Sacred Spirit of Water movie premiere in July, presented by the Lethbridge District Labour Council. The topic of safe, clean water is especially important in Lethbridge as fracking exploration continues to expand in southern Alberta. PSAC water bottles and t-shirts were given out as door prizes among the more than 100 people who attended.

Members in Lethbridge were also active in the expansion of the Interfaith Food Bank. Sister Shannan Little and Brother David Pearson sat on the gardening committee to assist with planning and building. Brother Dave did a lot of carpentry work for the project, including building the greenhouse and some of the flowerbeds. The beautiful, new “Teaching Garden” will be used to teach members of the community to grow their own food and is complete with a patio, raised flowerbeds, an underground sprinkler system and children’s area.

Looking Ahead

Preparations are already underway for the PSAC Prairies Convention, to be held in Saskatoon, June 27-29, 2014. Call-out for registrations and resolutions will be sent out this fall and committees will be established at the next Prairie Region Council meeting in Winnipeg, October 18-20, 2013.

Respectfully submitted,

Marianne Hladun,
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies