Strengthened resolve, unity, and solidarity for Indigenous Peoples in June

OPSEU Indigenous Circle - Cercle des autochtones SEFPO

(Reposted from the main OPSEU website: www.opseu.org)

 

June marks National Indigenous History Month where we recognize the vibrant and rich heritage, culture and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Canada.

During this month we not only spend time acknowledging the immeasurable contributions that Indigenous Peoples have and continue to make to society but it is also a time to listen and learn. It is imperative that we come together to recognize the history of discrimination and disadvantage that Indigenous Peoples have endured.

Most recently, the wider Canadian society has started to come to grips with the pain and intergenerational trauma that Indigenous communities have long discussed for years in relation to residential schools. This tremendous impact is felt by survivors, their families, and the future generations who live and work among us. Therefore, we must never forget.

In recent days we marked the one year anniversary since the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children that were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúpste te Secwépemc territory. Since then we have witnessed the discovery of additional locations of unmarked graves at residential schools across the country. As might be expected, this has sparked a national conversation that no one can ignore.

In spite of this, we continue to see the growing representation of Indigenous Peoples in distinguished roles within fields, such as, the arts, music, television, film, academia, and science and technology. Most notably, we witnessed the appointment of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, who is the first Indigenous and the 30th Governor General in Canada since July 2021. However, these milestones do not mean that our work is over as we have a duty to continue to fight for equality and acceptance as we continue to decolonize Canada.

The road towards seeking justice and reconciliation will not be easy but the demands are clear. We cannot look away at what makes us uncomfortable nor should we be wilfully blind as that only leads to complacency. As a union we have the collective voice and strength in numbers to mandate the change that must be implemented. We need to continue to hold government and political leaders at all levels to account for the continuous broken promises as we can no longer accept the status quo.

This includes supporting tangible actions to address the systemic discrimination that leads to the overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples within the criminal justice and child welfare systems. During the pandemic we have witnessed the exacerbation of inequities that already disproportionately affect Indigenous communities, such as, a lack of clean drinking water, climate change, affordable and adequate housing and access to health care services. These realities are unacceptable and we must take immediate action and steps to correct course.

These important issues have brought to the forefront of what is needed to build the relationship with Indigenous Peoples and how the path towards reconciliation is everyday work that requires us all to change how we think and what we do.

In a year where we will elect new provincial and municipal political leaders we must be unrelenting and unwavering in ensuring that not only are treaty agreements respected but that steps are taken to achieve the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. However, this can only occur by truly embracing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in everything we do.

National Indigenous History Month is a time to reinforce the strength of Indigenous Peoples and their communities, show our support, and commit to fighting against all forms of anti-Indigenous racism so that Canada’s shameful and disgraceful past and present can be acknowledged and addressed. It is only by understanding our past that we can change and create a better future.

This conversation should not start or end in the month of June as it is an ongoing one that will continue until full accountability and reconciliation is achieved for all of our Indigenous colleagues, friends and family members.

In solidarity,

JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Krista Maracle, OPSEU/SEFPO Chair, Indigenous Circle

Happy Pride Month!

June is Pride month to the TLGBTIAPQQ2S+ (Trans, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited) community and their allies.

Pride is a reaffirmation that discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression will not be tolerated.

A cornerstone in gay rights social movements, Pride also calls for an end to violence against the TLGBTIAPQQ2S+ community.

It is about preserving one’s dignity and ensuring that access to the same rights and services is fair and just.  In addition, it is a celebration of the diversity of sex, sexuality, attraction, gender and family diversity.

 

For more information on the OPSEU’s Equity group Rainbow Alliance Arc-en-ciel

For local Windsor-Essex Pride month events check out Windsor Pride

Demanding justice and accountability on Red Dress day

It’s Red Dress day, a solemn reminder of Canada’s deep rooted racism and continued mistreatment of Indigenous peoples.

Red Dress day is also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit People (MMIWG2S), marked every May 5. It’s a day to honour and remember the innocent women, girls and two spirit people who have been killed because of ongoing colonial gender-based violence.

For decades, Indigenous communities have witnessed alarmingly high rates of violence against women, girls and two spirit people. The disproportionate statistics of those missing and murdered are shameful. Statistics Canada reports that violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, girls and two spirit people are 12 times higher than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts in Canada.

Gender-based violence continues to be an instrument of colonialism. These ongoing disappearances, violence, murders and unresolved cases is a national human rights crisis and cannot be ignored.

We are still waiting for the federal and provincial governments to act on the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The national inquiry heard from more than 2,380 elders, family members and Indigenous survivors of violence, with thousands more untold stories. The final report with 231 Calls to Justice recommended that action be taken by all levels of government.

It has been three years since the report and there are still no answers or a national action plan to address the violence that Indigenous women, girls and two spirit people continue to be subjected to.

This delay also means that during the pandemic, these troubling numbers keep increasing. We continue to see the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous, Black and racialized people, particularly those who are identify as women and are gender diverse. In addition, those living in remote areas including in the north are more vulnerable to higher rates of violence and abuse. The government cannot stall anymore.  We must end this!

OPSEU/SEFPO honours the thousands of stolen sisters, two spirit and gender diverse persons from Indigenous communities and families. It is our responsibility as labour activists to raise awareness, advocate for change and amplify the calls to action by Indigenous leaders and their communities. We must hold our elected leaders and all levels of governments accountable to implement the full 231 Calls to Justice immediately. Walking the path of truth and reconciliation requires action. Together, we will continue to fight for accountability and demand justice.

In solidarity,

JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Krista Maracle, OPSEU/SEFPO Indigenous Circle, Chair

On May Day we march!

May 1, or May Day, is the traditional workers’ holiday, a day that working people celebrate the gains they have won over the years and commit to fighting for a better future for everyone.

It’s time for a $20 minimum wage, decent work, affordable housing, paid sick days, well-funded public services, livable income support for all, climate justice, status for all, and an end to racism and oppression. Workers deserve better – together, let’s make our voices heard!

We must continue to demand the repeal of anti-worker laws like Bill 124, 195 and 106, and build Ontario. Come out and show your support – don’t forget to bring your OPSEU/SEFPO flags and homemade placards as well! There will also be some pre-made placards available for pick-up from OPSEU/SEFPO regional offices.

For our Windsor Region, the Ontario Federation of Labour is hosting a rally.

Charles Clark Square, 215 Chatham St E, Windsor, ON

May 01, 2022   1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Newly-elected OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick will be speaking at noon at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto where OPSEU/SEFPO members will assemble before marching to Queen’s Park.

April 28 Day of Mourning and noted events across Ontario

The 28th of April is International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers organized worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996.  The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) reminds us that the National Day of Mourning, April 28, is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

 

On April 28, Canadian flags on Parliament Hill and in federal government buildings will fly at half-mast to honour the workers whose lives have been lost, who have been injured or disabled on the job, or who suffer from occupational disease. Employers and workers will observe the National Day of Mourning in various ways. Some will attend ceremonies, light candles, lay wreaths, wear commemorative pins, ribbons, or black armbands, and pause for a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m.

 

Happy Medical Laboratory Week! April 10-16, 2022

It’s National Medical Laboratory Week. Let’s hear it for the health care professionals who work behind the scenes to help diagnose everything from cancer to diabetes to COVID-19. Learn about all they do at medlabprofessionals.ca

Hello from Convention 2022!

Your OPSEU 101 convention delegates and alternates are happy to represent our local and participate in this year’s OPSEU Convention in Toronto from April 6 – 9, 2022. It’s shaping up to be an exciting year with elections for a new OPSEU president as our outgoing OPSEU president Smokey Thomas is not seeking re-election.

For those who are not aware, Convention is the yearly gathering where elected delegates can vote on important union matters such as president and vice president positions, budget, and constitution and resolutions changes. There are opportunities to network and meet other OPSEU members from across our province. Guest speakers, video presentations, awards, and educational booths add for an engaging experience.

Seated below from left to right are: Nichole Strong, Jen Burton Liang, Susan Bohnert Hamelin, Ema Sisic and Richard Baillargeon. Those who are attending convention virtually and not pictured are: Crystal Schryer, Katie Deschamps and Anna Mitchell.

 

Forms for COVID illness

Hello OPSEU Members,

This is a reminder for any staff members that potentially were exposed to COVID in the workplace, that an RL6 and a WSIB claim should be filed. Hopefully everyone who has become COVID positive has recovered fully, but in the event that COVID creates any long term effects, and it was acquired in the workplace due to direct contact with COVID positive patients or COVID positive staff on the job,  this must be documented. HDGH Employer has been very cooperative and is providing the necessary support to the Employees. The WRH Employer, in discussion with the Union, has identified that the members are free to reach out to the union if they feel they need support. With the high volumes of cases, the employer can no longer continue to manually track and report on each union member.

For this reason, it is advised that you fill out the proper documentation in order to protect yourselves down the road in the event of any unforeseen health issues or developments.

 

In Solidarity,

Susan

International Women’s Day – Lunch n’ Learn on March 8th, 2022

In recognition of International Women’s Day (IWD), OPSEU/SEFPO’s Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) will be hosting a lunch and learn virtual event on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

The event will feature guest speaker Celina Caesar-Chavannes, former Member of Parliament for Whitby and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. Her new memoir “Can You Hear Me Now” was released in February 2021 and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 Shaughnessy Cohen prize for political writing.

Join us to recognize and celebrate the strength, resiliency and determination of women.

  • When: Tuesday, March 8, 2022

  • Time: 12:00pm – 1:30pm

  • Location: Virtually on Zoom (a link will be provided to all registered participants in advance of the event)

For any questions or to register, please contact equity@opseu.org with your name and union number.

The deadline to register is Monday, March 7, 2022.

OPSEU Local 101 – VP Revote on Feb 24th

 

The Local Office has confirmed the approval for dates/time/location of the VP REVOTE:

 

Date: February 24th

Time: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

(In the event of a runoff vote, such that 50 + 1 % is not achieved, Feb 25th 8am – 8pm will be used as a second voting day)

Format: In person open-ballot ( as previous)

Location: OPSEU LOCAL OFFICE

                     3005 Marentette Ave, Windsor

                    (near Devonshire Mall)

 

Candidates Running:

Katie Deschamps, Todd Dutot, Lauren Merritt, Sarah Myer

Positions available: 1st VP, 2nd VP, 3rdVP

 

All those eligible to vote must be members in good standing and provide photo ID ( workplace badge, or government photo ID) at the door.

The Staff Rep, Mickey Riccardi will facilitate the vote.

The positions and who is running for what position will be clearly identified at the polling station.

Each position will be counted in ranking order, until a successful candidate is elected. In the event of a runoff vote, such that 50 + 1 % is not achieved, Feb 25th will be used as a second voting day.