COPE MID-TERM CONFERENCE IN VICTORIA BC - March 9 &10
This was my first conference as a delegate of Cope 397. I was happy to be selected as one of the representatives to attend.
The experience was one to remember. After a rocky start with flight cancellations, an early morning and being on “stand-by” I was finally on my way West.
The conference began Friday morning with Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Council with an opening address. Hassan is an amazing speaker, working hard to strengthen the Canadian Pension Plan and among other things has successfully campaigned to ban asbestos from the workplace.
The Guest speaker The Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, Governement of BC welcomed us to British Columbia and provided a brief update on the labour movement in British Columbia.
The first workshop was presented by two facilitators, one being our own Kim Wilson. Kim presented an informative workshop on Domestic Violence and what we can do as a Union to assist fellow members who may be dealing with violence outside of the workplace.
The highlight of the conference was a presentation from Peter Hellberg. Peter is from Stockholm, Sweden and spoke about his union - Unionen. Peter explained how they increased Unionen members in a very short time and now have over 650,000 members from the private sector.
Peter Hellber: “Joy in the working life” - not too much to ask, is it!
Day 2 included a workshop on reconciliation where we were guided through a blanket exercise. This was an interactive learning experience with the goal of teaching participants Indigenous history. I have previously taken part in this exercise from previous Union Schools and it is a truly an enlightening experience that brought up a lot of emotions for all in the room.
I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and mingle with other COPE members form across the country. This conference was a wonderful experience and I would recommend attending if you have the opportunity.
Mid Term Conference Victoria
I'd like to thank Cope 397 for allowing me to be a delegate to the COPE Mid Term Conference.
It was very nice to see that the organizers took into account that a great deal of our delegates are either bilingual or French speaking. That is a new experience for me and I now have a better understanding of what it is like to not understand what is being discussed.
I think as an English speaker I have been spoiled in the world and just assume that anyplace I go that I'll be understood and can understand.
I enjoyed the speakers and took a lot away from what they had to say.
The young woman who did the final exercise with the Indigenous story was quite moving. A lot of their history is unknown to the general public. I appreciate learning more and I am happy to share this new knowledge with co workers and friends.
COPE Mid-Term Conference – Report
On February 9th & 10th 2018, I had the privilege of attending the Cope Mid-Term Conference in Victoria BC, as one of the dozen or so delegates from "Region 3" of the Cope family. It was a fabulous experience attending the conference, taking in the sights, meeting other Union delegates/activists from the other 3 regions and partaking in the workshops that were organized.
Besides the technical difficulties that the facilitators were having, the workshops were very informative and educational. The first workshop, "Domestic Violence (DV)" was one that I've had the opportunity to hear before from other facilitators, and organizations that have held workshops. But, this one was a little bit different. Although, this workshop did display some factual statistics in regards to domestic violence, this, workshop was more about DV in the workplace and put more emphasis on the responsibility of not just shop stewards but co-workers in general, to recognize the tell-tale signs that someone is in a DV situation, whether they are the victim, or in the rare instances that they are the abuser/ perpetrator.
This workshop has opened my eyes and has told me that it is ok, to discuss in confidentiality, any DV situations that I recognize, with the individual that I am concerned with, to make sure that they are ok, and safe. I understand that someone would probably be embarrassed, mad, or even scared, if they were approached, and would probably comment "mind your own business", " It's none of your business" or "Leave me alone". Before taking any of the "Domestic Violence" workshops, I would have probably done just that, ignored the situation and concluded that 'it was none of my business'. I recognize now that, I have a responsibility to act.
The 2nd Workshop, "Reconciliation”, I guess struck a cord with me. With all the racial tension that we are facing across the country, as a result of the recent events happening in the news and social media, it is tough for me to say if it was either good or bad timing. Regardless of the timing, and with the way the world is turning, I am a fervent believer of "1 Nation” not just “1st Nation”. It seems inevitable that we are going to arrive at the outcome of a '1 nation' sooner or later regardless of the attempts of traditionalists and activists seeking to continually segregate themselves from the changing tide. Also, the current use of the word 'Indigenous' is misleading. It is hard for me to believe that there are truly “Indigenous" people in the America's. The proper word to me that should be used is ‘Native’. And that's just my personal opinion on the matter.
“INDEGENOUS applies to that which is not only native but which, as far as can be determined has never been introduced or brought from elsewhere.” Synonym Discussion of INDEGENOUS Merriam-Webster
First of all, I would like to thank the Executive of Cope 397 for allowing me the opportunity to attend the mid-term conference in Victoria, BC from Feb 9th, 2018 to Feb 10th, 2018. After 36 years of service with SGI, this is the first conference that I have ever attended. I have to be honest in saying that being there and with all of the speakers and agenda's that were discussed, I honestly felt like a deer in headlights. I had no idea what our Union does, besides negotiate our wages and fight for the rights of their members.
On Feb 9th, 2018, the conference started at 8:00 am and at 9:15 am Hassan Yussuf (who is the President of Canadian Labour Congress) spoke. He spoke about the BC minimum wage going up to $12.75/hr and that they are hoping for $15.00 per hour by 2020 for BC residents. He spoke about the need to help BC residents with Day Care Rates and he also spoke about Domestic Violence. I found his speech to be very interesting and he had my undivided attention.
On Feb 10th, 2018 the conference started at 9:00 am. It was noted on the agenda that "Reconciliation" would take place. I honestly had no idea what this was and was very skeptical about this. The 2 women that ran the Reconciliation were absolutely amazing. Many people participated and I was given a sheet to read about "Enfranchisement" (there were several readers and the women would elaborate on what was read).
I had no idea what the Metis people were put through or that the children were taken from their parents, their homes and sent to a "Residential" school. Hearing what had happened and imagining having your child stripped away from you brought tears to my eyes. There were many tears that were shed. I'm sure that I was not the only person in that room, that didn't realize how the Metis were treated and how hard they have fought and are still fighting to have their land and rights be given back to them. The 2 females that lead the Reconciliation are teachers in Langley, BC and they are teaching the Metis children their heritage, their native dance, drumming and to be proud of their heritage.
On the lighter side of life...the dinner on Friday was fantastic and the DJ played great tunes...which was reflected by how full the dance floor was.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Mid-term Union Conference at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria British Columbia. It was my first time attending and I certainly learned a great deal about our Union and what they represent.
Our first speaker was Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. Besides being an amazing speaker, we also learned he was the first person of color to lead Canada’s union
The second person to speak was The Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour for BC. It was reassuring to hear him speak about his priorities, one being the Health and Safety of the people of BC.
On Friday afternoon, we attended a workshop on Domestic Violence. The Facilitators did an amazing job despite some technical difficulties, which were rectified immediately. They divided us into groups and we got to discuss and answer questions about how our union can help in supporting members who may be affected by domestic violence. We were given a list of questions and we answered them in groups, with each group having one member report their suggestions.
We discussed holding workshops in the workplace; how to build support and what we would like to see our union do to help with this issue. I was very enlightened throughout these discussions because I had never really thought about it before, maybe the person working next to you is a victim and you aren’t even aware. The facilitators gave us signs to look for and things to watch out for and it was interesting to hear what other groups had thought about the issues.
Our final workshop was held on Saturday morning and was entitled “Reconciliation”. Two young indigenous women came at the last minute when someone had cancelled and they put on an amazing blanket ceremony, which I got to take part in. I will admit I was a bit skeptical, or shall I say ignorant as to what this all meant but I thoroughly enjoyed their presentation.
From the beginning, they were both very emotional, as they had relatives who came from residential schools, or were the products of individuals that came from those schools. This was a very interactive workshop and everyone in the room was included. One indigenous woman spoke and told her story of abuse at the hands of a grandparent and a step parent. After the ceremony was concluded, those individuals that had cried were invited to put their Kleenex in a box and then a smudging ceremony was performed. This involves the use of medicine plants to make cleansing smoke or a smudge. This ceremony is a ritual cleansing and our negative energy, feelings and emotions are lifted away.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this conference and look forward to sharing all I have learned with my fellow union members.
I would like to thank Cope 397 for allowing me the privilege of attending the mid-term conference 2018 as a delegate from region 3. We had a great group representing our region this year. I'm thankful to my brothers and sisters for this experience.
It was the second time I have had the opportunity to hear Hassan Yussuff speak. Hassan is president of the Canadian Labour Congress his words are very moving in light of the current situation.
Guest speaker Veronique Picard addressed the issues women and children continue to face both past and present as Native Women in the First Nation Community. Veronique represents Quebec Native Women Inc. Following Veronique's presentation was a very moving exercise allowing our group to participate in Reconciliation.
Reconciliation tied in well with our workshop on Domestic Violence. The impact not only on those directly affected by domestic violence but also the impact in the workplace and our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters that we work with each day. As a survivor of domestic violence I can attest to the fact that it affects everyone from every walk of life. I'm proud to see the labor movement working towards language that will assist those dealing with domestic violence. It's a small step in the right direction.
I encourage anyone that has the opportunity to become involved. Education provides knowledge, in knowledge is power and together we are stronger.
Yours in soli,
Sister Stephanie Kerr
The 2018 COPESEPB Mid-term Conference was held in Victoria, BC, February 9 through 10. Approximately 140 delegates were in attendance, representing Canada’s four regions. Simultaneous translation was available to the English and French speaking attendees.
National Secretary-Treasurer Kateri Lefebvre welcomed delegates to the Conference, followed by an address from Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. A former Member of UNIFOR, he spoken with genuine emotion, reassuring delegates that the CLC will not tolerate raiding, but will work toward a resolve to bring all Unionists in Canada under the CLC umbrella.
The Honourable Harry Bains, BC Minister of Labour, brought greetings on behalf of the Government. As a former Member of the Steelworkers-IWA, he brings a long history of activism, fighting for the rights of working people.
President David Black presented the Consultation Document, prepared by the Advisory Committee with input from the majority of Locals. He explained that, constitutionally, no motions can be entertained at a Conference, so the question will not be put until the 2019 Convention in Gatineau. Although the decentralized structure that COPESEPB has is somewhat unique in the Labour Movement, most Locals responding to the questionnaire, ordered by the last National Convention, favour this over a centralized approach. If small Locals find it difficult to operate, they are encouraged to merge (Local 379, Calgary, merged with Local 397 in 2010, and both Ontario and Quebec restructured their Regions).
Workshops on “Domestic Violence” provided useful information, however the format was not interactive.
Peter Hellberg, representing Unionen, Sweden’s largest White-Collar Union, shared their approach to organizing. They have successfully recruited over half a million Members, but not all are covered by Collective Agreements. He urged the Assembly to “work differently”, utilize the Internet and Social Media, think creatively, target youth and professionals, and start with asking the question.
Irene Lanzinger, the first female President of the BC Federation of Labour and a Member of the BC Teachers’ Federation, brought greetings from the BCFL. Her energy and passion working for social and economic justice shone through in her speech urging improved living standards for all workers, not just Union Members.
The last workshop, “Reconciliation”, was extremely powerful and enlightening. Delegates participated in an interactive exercise highlighting the attempted annihilation and humiliation of the Indigenous People of Turtle Island (Canada). The devastation wrought by wresting children away from their families and isolating them in Residential Schools, where they were subjected to horrendous forms of abuse, will affect generations to come. It was particularly humbling and moving at the closing smudging that three eagles were flying overhead. This session was very moving and challenged me on a personal level.
Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to attend!
COPE Mid-Term Conference Report
This year, I attended my first COPE Mid-Term Conference from February 9 to 10, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia. As this was my first time attending this conference, I was not sure what to expect. It was an incredible experience in both the organization and the delegates I got a chance to meet. It was interesting to meet other people in the COPE family, who were from different provinces and in different positions than myself.
There were two workshops at the conference: one on domestic violence and the other on reconciliation. Both of these workshops were filled with excellent information. The domestic violence workshop discussed how we can use the information to create a safer space within our workplaces and our unions for those surviving these terrible situations. It created an opportunity to think about my place in creating these spaces that are free of violence.
The reconciliation workshop came the day after the verdict regarding Colten Boushie’s murder was announced. This created an even more profound experience as the presenters walked us through a demonstration of First Nations history was colonization and discrimination. It also showed the process of healing that has begun and how we can take part in that process as members and as a union.
Overall, the conference allowed me to become more educated on topics that are important to me. I was also lucky enough to connect with many new people and I am excited to go forward from this conference.
Jessica Boyer Henrion
COPE 397 Member
2018 COPE/SEPB Mid-Term Conference
February 9 – 10
The conference started Friday February 9th at 8:00am with some welcoming remarks from the Nation Secretary Treasurer Kateri Lefebvre. CLC President Hassan Yussuf and BC Minister of Labour Harry Bains also spoke. Minister Bains announced that the BC minimum wage will increase to $15.20 by June 2021. Interesting to note that Saskatchewan is dead last. SHAME!!
After a short break we were split in two groups and went into workshops for the rest of the morning. The workshop I went to was Domestic Violence put on by our very own Kim Wilson. After some technical difficulties the workshop went very well and was very informative.
After lunch we had a presentation from a Swedish union brother on a union in his country. The way his union works is very different from the way it is done here. Unionen has hundreds of thousands of members in different workplaces. You must choose to be part of the union in Sweden.
Our workshop on Domestic Violence continued after this presentation. Kim put on a very good workshop.
The next morning the conference started up again at 9:00am with a guest speaker from Quebec Native Women Inc. The presentation was in French and was hard at some points to follow along with…. even with the translation devices. I have made a commitment to learn French so I don’t have to use one of those!!
After the presentation two native girls came in and gave a very powerful turtle island presentation. I have been through a turtle island presentation before but this was so much powerful. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house! If you haven’t been through one, I highly suggest you do.
Thank you to COPE 397 for giving me the opportunity to go to this conference. I always enjoy union activities and love to grow as a union activist.
1st Vice President