OPSEU’s commitment to equity issues and
international solidarity makes me proud to be
president of this union. Our members are known
as outspoken activists for social justice in our
communities and province. Politicians are very
familiar with our persistent call for them to
stand up for what is right.
As we move into February, Black History month, I
want to personally congratulate all of the OPSEU
activists who work so hard as advocates and
agents of change in our Workers of Colour
Caucus. OPSEU’s Equity Committees are a powerful
force in our union, and we can all enjoy
celebrating the success of our members who work
tirelessly to further the cause of equity
issues, so that our union can champion and
represent the interests of all.
February is a call for collective
celebration. This is an opportunity to share
untold histories –– stories of freedom,
courage, democratic conviction; stories of
generations who sat in, stood up, spoke up,
marched, occupied; stories of people who
risked everything in the struggle for
The struggle for racial justice is not over.
According to recent census data, 16.2% of
Canada’s total population are racialized—that
is, more than five million people. However,
census data show that racialized communities
have higher unemployment rates than
non-racialized communities. In fact, the
unemployment rate for racialized workers who
identify as black is 73% higher than
non-racialized Canadians. Both
racialized women and men are over-represented in
a range of traditionally low-paying, insecure
and precarious businesses ranging from call
centres to security services to janitorial
services. Racialized workers are generally more
educated than their non-racialized
counter-parts, yet still face higher
unemployment and lower income levels.
These facts and statistics underline the
continued urgency of the call for racial justice
locally, provincially and throughout Canada.
This month provides an important opportunity
to recognize the significant contributions of
racialized Canadians, past and present, who have
fought for change and exemplify integrity,
vision and collective models of leadership. The
struggles of racialized peoples are those of all
working people. Leaders in the fight against
racial injustice are also leaders for all of us.
Their contributions to human rights and racial
justice have transformed systems of inequality,
racism and poverty.
As a union, we are all part of this struggle and
stand in solidarity with the full diversity of