The Prairie Voice Awards was created to recognize and salute the tireless work our members do every day in their locals, their committees or area councils, and their communities. It’s a way for us to say thank you to members for their commitment to the labour movement and their efforts to make our union stronger.
The awards were handed out on April 22, 2017 as part of the PSAC Prairie Region Triennial Convention’s banquet dinner held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Awarded to a member who mentors others in their workplace or union. Someone with a kind heart that recognizes the value of mentorship and invests time into the success of others. Someone who teachers, encourages, and guides others in their development and involvement.
The winner of this award is president of her local and has held many different roles within her component, with PSAC committees, and within the broader labour movement. The nominator wrote that she “has a huge heart and does what she can to assist others within the union framework—as well as those in her workplace and neighbourhood that are not members.”
She has been an activist since she was 16 years old and has been involved with PSAC for more than 17 years. As she gets ready for retirement and mentors other as they take over her many different union roles and responsibilities, it’s fitting that the Building Futures Award goes to Gloria Kelly from UNDE Local 50705 in Winnipeg.
Changing the World
Awarded to a member who is involved in political action or the broader labour movement. Someone who leads marches, organizes rallies, or knocks on the doors of politicians. Someone who is politically charged and devoted to positive change.
This award goes to a “boots to the ground, get ‘er done” kind of activist who is determined to positively impact the world through her work with the union. The winner has organized rallies and marches for women’s issues, marched in support of other workers on strike, and has been heavily involved in the fightback of the privatization of Crown corporations in Saskatchewan.
The person who nominated her said, “I cannot imagine another person better able to represent how political activism has the power to change the world.”
The Changing the World Award goes to Michelle Lang, from DCL 40005 in Regina.
Awarded to a member who is active and involved in their community. Someone who participates in community events, dedicates time to volunteer work, and works towards making their community a better place for everyone.
The winner of this award has volunteered fundraising for United Way, coached youth sports and worked as a soccer referee. Within his local, he has organized rallies and events that have increased membership engagement. He is a strong advocate for workers’ rights and aims to “build the community” with everything he does, whether advancing human rights by raising awareness or engaging in political action in support of social democracy.
The winner of the Community Champion Award is Greg Ballendine, from USGE Local 50026 in Winnipeg.
Awarded to a member who has proven themselves as a future leader of our union. Someone who has recently gotten more involved with the union and is taking on positions, learning more about their union and collective agreement and dedicating their time to justice for workers.
Within six months of starting with the Public Service, this member showed an interest in learning more about the labour movement and the structure of PSAC. He has already taken four PSAC courses, plus two more from the employer, and is currently enrolled in PSAC’s 2017 Union Development Program, one of the most comprehensive union leadership training programs in Canada.
He is a shop steward, a human rights rep, involved with two PSAC Committees, and was just elected the new Young Workers Rep on the Prairie Region Council. Less than a year with the Public Service, and he has already proven himself to be a leader within our union.
The winner of the Emerging Activist Award is Ryan Zacharias from CEIU 50767 in Winnipeg.
Human Rights Hero
Awarded to a member who stands up fairness and equality for everyone. Someone who advances human rights work or raises awareness or money for an organization or cause that works with any equity group.
Human rights are something we all value very deeply. This union’s commitment to equity is second-to-none, and our members’ involvement with their respective equity conferences or local Human Rights Committee attests to that. The winner of this award was described as a “role model” by the nominator. Someone who respects human rights values and dignity for all.
For his commitment to human rights and the labour movement, James Somers from UTE Local 30025 is the winner of the Human Rights Hero Award.
Judy Shannon Education Award
Created to recognize a member who is an advocate for union education. Someone who participates and encourages others to participate, and dedicates themselves to lifelong learning. In honour and memory of Judy Shannon, a passionate educator and dedicated activist.
The winner of this award is always learning. She participates regularly in different courses and brings what she learned back to the workplace and back to the local. She is a proud advocate for education and encourages other members to take advantage of union education. Her personal mantra is, “Knowledge is power! And with knowledge, we can advocate for others!”
The nominator writes, “We need more members like her, to encourage lifelong learning and advocacy.”
That’s why Mildred Ncube of CEIU Local 30851 in Edmonton is the winner of the Judy Shannon Education Award.
Mildred was not in attendance at Convention, and arrangements will be made to present her with the award at a later date.
Awarded to a member who takes on tough challenges or situations in the workplace without hesitation. Someone who consistently follows through with responsibilities and helps educate members on their collective agreement and rights. Someone involved in bargaining or organizing in their workplace.
This member values fairness and accountability from both the employer and the union. He has worked tirelessly to resolve member issues with the employer, supported various Local Executives across the province, and worked actively with the component National Executive. He fights for members, ensures all members feel valued and appreciated during meetings and discussions, and keeps all members informed of what’s happening with in the union.
The nominator described him as “approachable, trustworthy, and someone who cares for the union and the members.” He is always eager and willing to attend Local AGMs, no matter how small, and reminds workers of the value of unions.
That’s why Mike Brecht, former National Vice-President for CEIU in Saskatchewan, is the recipient of the Workplace Warrior Award.
Mike was not in attendance at Convention, and arrangements will be made to present him with the award at a later date.
Lifetime of Labour
Created to honour a member who has dedicated their life to the union and union members. Someone who has worked in various roles in their local and component, been involved with bargaining teams, participated in committees, and represents the fundamental principles of union activism in everything they do.
The winner of this award has always been available to members and always ready to take on tough issues. She is proud to call herself a feminist and has been a tireless advocate for women’s issues, particularly around child care. As she moved up the ranks of leadership, she has never forgotten that the members are the union and decisions have to be reflective of member’s needs. She continues to be a mentor to so many members and sees potential in members they might not even see in themselves.
As her nominator put it, “her influence, dedication, stubbornness and support will be missed after her retirement in 2018, but her legacy will continue. Prairies members have been honourable represented.” With a career that spans over 35 years of activism in her workplace, her component, the Prairie Region and now on the national stage, this award is well-deserved.
PSAC National President Robyn Benson is the recipient of the Lifetime of Labour Award.
Read more about the Prairie Region Triennial Convention: