Sean Friesen: Determination and optimism for labour activists

I’d like to commence by, once again, thanking the PSAC for allowing me the privilege of representing young workers in the Prairie Region at the CLC Political Action Conference. In particular, appreciation goes out to REVP Sister Marianne Hladun, Jeffrey Vallis, and my fellow delegates, Sister Shannan Little, Brother Paul Daigneault, and Brother Jesse Todd, whose presence made this trip meaningful. 

In addition to this report, please read my blog entry, which contains some additional candid info on my time at the conference.

Young Workers Forum

As a young workers chosen to represent the PSAC Prairie Region at the conference, I had the opportunity to attend the Young Workers Forum on Friday afternoon. Young workers have the responsibility of being the next generation of activists for the labour movement. As young workers, we were motivated to bring something new and different to the table and not just technology (although, social media does play a major role).

The forum facilitated discussion and learning around a variety of topics, such as: the labour movement and its connection with community, student organizations, and the arts. I participated in round table discussions on these topics, as well as performed a rap verse on union solidarity (I still have the lines if anyone wishes to see it).

Sessions and Seminars

The sessions and seminars provided by the CLC were enlightening and motivating. I was able to listen to speakers from all around the world and from different areas of expertise. Along with the main plenary sessions where 1,500+ delegates were all present in the same room, I attended several smaller break-out sessions (My sessions included: Why Public Services Matter, Face to Face Skills, and Fighting Slactivism). These sessions and seminars had experts and activists encouraging delegates to stand up to the current and future labour legislations and lobby against attempts to “open our books” or “right to work”. I received a much needed dose of optimism from our brothers and sisters in Australia, who revealed a government, like the one in Canada, can be defeated by members talking to members and public campaigns.

Other speakers reminded attendees of the appropriate ways to talk to members and the public. They also spoke on the importance of semantics when referring to “my” union, rather than “the” union (thus, associating rather than disassociating).  Other inspiring topics included:

  • Countering negative press (Act rather than re-Act)
  • Fight your own apathy before you try to fight someone else’s
  • Get involved with the community (establish common ground with like-minded organizations)
  • Face-to-face with members shows you care
  • LISTEN to what a member is telling you
  • Spectrum of Allies (focus on passive allies to neutral members)
  • Volunteering for everything may not always work, “Do more with less”.

Lastly, Thomas Muclair’s rousing speech in the main plenary had the whole 1,500+ conference delgates out of their seats more than in them. His words provided reassurance of allies on Parliament who understand our concerns and were willing to fight for them.


The whole conference was exciting and added a considerable amount of fuel to an already kindling fire within me. I left with a sense of determination and optimism for our present and future generation of labour activists. Rest assured, I plan to utilize all I’ve learned and pass it on so others can benefit.

In Solidarity,

Sean Friesen
PSAC-USGE Local 30010

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