BCHLC November 2020 Newsletter

 In News

Major South Asian BC Labour History Project Launched

New partnership with South Asian Studies Institute

IWA [International Woodworkers of America] Local 1-357 picket line at North Mitchell Lumber, 1987. Sean Griffin photo, Pacific Tribune Photo Collection, Simon Fraser University MSC160-1511_11A.

The BC Labour Heritage Centre has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) to design and develop a module focusing on South Asian BC Labour History.
The project is part of the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project, supported by a 1.14-million-dollar contribution by the Province of British Columbia to the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley.
The one-year project will present the history of South Asian workers in British Columbia, with a focus on organized labour, union membership and activism. The project will also address non-unionized workers in BC’s labour force and questions of racist exclusion and choice in union membership.

Read the announcement.

On the Line Podcast: Episode 3

The 1983 Tranquille Occupation

In Episode 3 of On the Line: Stories of BC Workers hosted by Rod Mickleburgh, we explore the 22-day occupation of the Tranquille Institution in Kamloops by 600 members of BC Government and Service Employees’ Union and the Union of Psychiatric Nurses. Workers took matters into their own hands when faced with a threat to shut the residential facility.  Listen or download here.

Major BC Labour Figure is Mourned

John L. Fryer

John L. Fryer

We were shocked and saddened to hear that John Fryer died this week at his home in England. We had been working with him for many months to set up an Oral History interview so his significant contribution to BC’s labour history could be documented.
Fryer’s obituary in the Times Colonist newspaper can be viewed here. We extend our condolences to the Fryer family and union brothers and sisters.

Seeking stories from unorganized service workers

Are you — or do you know someone — a worker in the ‘gig’ economy? Food service, ride sharing, delivery, DJ, freelancer, handyperson…..

Our COVID Chronicles Project continues to record and preserve a record of how BC workers and unions responded to the COVID-19 pandemic

We want to record your story. Follow this link to complete our survey.

Upcoming Events

Friday, November 6, 12 noon-2 pm Retail Action Network hosts Where’s Bonnie? A COVID-friendly Facebook event and game calling for paid sick days!! Location: It’s a secret! There is a prize!!

– Wednesday, November 11. Pay tribute to Mac-Pap volunteers who  fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) by placing a white rose on a volunteer’s grave. Details: Macpaptribute@gmail.com

Recent Great Non-Fiction Reads for Lefties

At noon on Monday, April 27, 1970, seventeen Vancouver women set out in a Volkswagen van, a yellow convertible and a pick-up truck headed for Ottawa to lobby the federal government for “Abortion on Demand”. Inspired by the 1935 On To Ottawa Trek of young unemployed men, the Abortion Caravan hoped to have more supporters join them as they crossed the country. They finally got the attention of Parliament and the country when a significant number of them chained themselves in the visitor’s gallery in the House of Commons forcing parliament to shut down. The Caravan is a largely forgotten but is an important piece of our social history that Wells brings alive in her telling of the story.

Who would have imagined that a Canadian from Winnipeg, serving as a spy in the British secret service would have played a key role in moving American politicians and the public towards involvement against Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Well William Stevenson did just that and author Hemming tells a spell binding story of all of the forces at play in trying to keep America out of the war including the efforts of some home grown fascists. An intriguing and true story that makes we Canadians feel good.

In the summer of 1983, Operation Solidarity began mobilizing the widespread opposition across BC to the Social Credit government budget cutbacks and regressive legislative into a cohesive protest movement. Steeves, then a staffer at the BC Government Employees’ Union, tells the fascinating story of a group of BCGEU members who championed the fight back in dramatic fashion. Faced with the announced closure of their Kamloops workplace, the workers at Tranquille, a residential complex for people with developmental disabilities, decided to occupy and manage the facility themselves. The Tranquille occupation was an inspiration to the tens of thousands fighting back and it is timely to finally have their story told. It is a good story, well told.

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