Thursday, June 24, Convention Recap

The 8th Triennial Prairie Region Convention was kicked off today with a heartfelt opening and land acknowledgement from Elder, Barbara Nepinak.

The theme of Convention is: “Reflect on Our Past, Focus on Our Future.” 

This sentiment is as relevant today as it was a year and half ago when it was chosen, even though our individual and collective worlds look very different. PSAC has accomplished so much in the last year, never mind the last four. Reflecting on our past strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and challenges, is crucial in order to move into the future with a clear vision of where we want to go as a union and what we want to contribute to the broader Labour movement.

It was an emotional morning with the announcement from the Cowessess First Nation regarding the discovery of unmarked graves the night before. In addition to acknowledging PSAC members who are no longer with us, a 2 minute and 15 second moment of silence was planned to honour the Indigenous children who were lost to the colonial and genocidal policies of the Canadian state. 

As convention held the moment of silence, Cowessess First Nation reported that 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School were found. It is important that non-Indigenous Canadians understand the weight of what Indigenous peoples have known for decades; and that understanding must motivate action. We all have a responsibility and role to play in reckoning with our collective past. This is of particular importance on the Prairies. 

Our thoughts are with the people of Cowessess First Nation and Indigenous people across the country.

Thank you to Sister Valda Behrens, a member of the Regional Health and Safety Committee, and Sister Sandra Ahenakew, previous Indigenous Peoples Representative on the Prairie Region Council for your work in introducing that moment of silence.

A test vote was conducted this morning that really represented where Convention was supposed to originally take place in Regina, Saskatchewan in 2020. 

“A hooded sweater with no zipper is called a bunny hug.” 

In favour or against.

Result: The motion was carried. It’s a bunny hug!

Convention floor had the pleasure of hearing from PSAC National President, Chris Aylward as well as the opening address from the Regional Executive Vice-President, Marianne Hladun. One memorable quote from Sister Hladun’s address: “I feel a lot of Pride in our membership that Trudeau couldn’t fly into a Prairie city without hearing from PSAC members.”

A special thank you must be extended to Sister Kirsten Strachey, Chairperson of the Convention Finance/General Committee, who walked delegates through the 2021-2023 budget and provided necessary context for any delegate questions. The budget was unanimously adopted by delegates. 

There was a spirited debate on Convention floor on Resolution BL-022 which was a structural change for the make-up of the Prairie Region Council. The Bylaws Resolutions Committee recommended concurrence and the motion was carried. As of now, all members of the Prairie Region Council are elected at Convention. 

Delegates debated a number of resolutions from the Bylaws Resolutions Committee:
BL – 001 – Carried
BL – 002 – Carried
BL – 003 – Carried
BL – 022 – Carried
BL – 006 – Carried
BL – 007 – Carried
BL – 013 – Carried

Convention delegates also carried the General Resolutions Committee recommendation of concurrence on Emergency Resolution 1, Missing Children and Burial Information. 

BE IT RESOLVED THAT: PSAC Prairies provides the necessary resources to launch a campaign in order to encourage members to pressure their local Member of Parliament to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action 71-76 titled Missing Children and Burial Information.