BC Labour Heritage Centre Bulletin – February 2017

 In News

BC Labour Heritage

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BCTF celebrates 100 years

On January 4, the BC Teachers’ Federation celebrated 100 years of fighting for public education and teachers’ rights by unveiling a plaque as part of our “Remembering Working People” project.  The plaque will be mounted at the Diamond Health Care Centre at 12th and Oak in Vancouver, the former site of King Edward High School where the BCTF was founded in 1917.

On February 15, 2017 we will be unveiling another BCTF100 plaque to commemorate the 1974 Surrey Teachers’ Strike. A full report in the next newsletter!

Photos: Clockwise from top – Our bronze plaque; BCLHC Chair Ken Novakowski (also a former BCTF President) with past BCTF President Jim Iker; birthday cake; BCLHC Treasurer Al Cornes, Jim MacFarlan (BCTF President 1973-1975), Jim Cairnie BCTF President 1962-1963; 14 past Presidents of the BCTF present for unveiling.

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February is Black History Month

The railroad-centred Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver became home to a large black working class community in the early 1900s.  Many worked as sleeping car porters on the railways, and joined the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In 1945 they became the first union organized by black men to sign a contract with a Canadian company (CP Rail).  Click here or on the photo above to see a video about their history.

An excellent history of the porters in Strathcona, and other history of the black community can be found on the Black Strathcona website.

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We love hearing from our readers.  In response to this 1976 photo (SFU/Pacific Tribune) of Peter Burton after his release from jail following the Kitimat Wildcat Strike, we received this message:

“I was in the crowd –16 or 17 years old and remember being quite stirred by Burton’s speech. That whole strike was not only memorable but quite formative for a young guy who didn’t know a whole lot about organized labour. I remember busloads of imported cops; cycling down to the picket line regularly to witness the action which included a little old Portuguese lady kicking a car crossing the line and–most memorable of all–seeing a phalanx of cops in riot gear marching on the vastly outnumbered and unarmed CASAW members, one of whom picked up a twig, held it aloft and yelled “Charge!” Not long afterwards, some friends and I put out an ‘alternative’ newspaper at MESS because the ‘official’ one was being censored by the teacher sponsor. Thinking that Burton would surely sympathize with our ‘radical’ efforts, I asked him if I could use CASAW’s mimeograph machine to print our paper, and he very graciously, if somewhat bemusedly, agreed.”

– Dirk Beck, Toronto

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