Solidarity Not Charity
In September of this year, OPSEU will
be sending a delegation to Southern Africa to experience firsthand what
international solidarity really means. As their President, I am extremely proud
of these members and I know that they will be great ambassadors for their union
and their communities across this province.
OPSEU has had a long history of
international solidarity. Our members’ understanding and participation in
international solidarity is critical to our continued commitment to stand with
oppressed people everywhere.
To us, solidarity is very different
from charity. Solidarity with women’s organizations, indigenous groups, unions,
peasant organizations, human rights activists, grandmother’s groups, etc. is
crucial to our understanding of the fight against poverty and injustice
everywhere. By joining together with others who are fighting similar struggles
we strengthen our own commitment to social justice and global solidarity against
the forces that continue to widen the gap between rich and poor in all
This OPSEU Tour 2012 is no ordinary
tour of Southern Africa. It is one which will engage our members in a hands-on
experience as they learn about community development and social justice in
Malawi and South Africa. This is what they will be doing during their 3 week
Tour members will spend a week at the
Makupo Development Project in a Malawian village, volunteering in the local
school; they will visit four separate Stephen Lewis Foundation projects in Cape
Town and Johannesburg – all projects dealing with the struggle against HIV/AIDS
in Southern Africa; they will meet with affiliates of the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (COSATU).
Each of the seven regional
representatives is engaged in fundraising in their own communities for the cost
of their tour and each of them is committed to furthering OPSEU’s international
solidarity work in their own region upon their return. Join me in wishing this
amazing group of OPSEU members a wonderful trip to Southern Africa.
An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas,
My name is Peter Thompson and I work for the Municipal
Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) formerly Ministry of Finance. I started
working in the Assessment Department in 1989 in the Toronto office and then
received full time employment in Windsor. I currently hold a designation and
membership with the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AACI), and the Institute of
Municipal Assessors (MIMA), and I’m currently working towards my designation as
a Paralegal. For many years, I have been actively involved in my community as a
soccer coach. I have been involved in the labour movement for 20 years, which
includes working on various committees, caucuses. Currently, I am the Chair of
the Workers of Colour Caucus. My personal SOCIAL (UNION) MAP is as follows:
Chair – Workers of Colour Caucus
Investigator Advisor Harassment
University of Ottawa, Human Rights College.
First Regional Human Rights Rep (Region 1 -
Vice-Chair - Provincial Human Rights
MPAC Bargaining Team Member (2 terms)
Ministry of Finance (Divestment/Transition
Vice-President (Local 154)
I am extremely honoured and grateful to be selected by
the Social Justice Fund as OPSEU Region 1’s representative travelling to South
Africa in September 2012. The Social Justice Fund was set up to support
international solidarity projects and their objective is to strengthen the
global movement against privatization and exploitation of international
vulnerable communities. One of the organizations that they support is the
Stephen Lewis Foundation. I have participated in raising funds and awareness for
them since 2007. Long before my activism started with OPSEU, I was a student
activist while studying in college/university. As a student, I realized that I
had a passion for social justice and I wanted to make a difference in my
In my work with OPSEU and other labour affiliates, I
have acquired leadership skills and an increased awareness of social justice
issues. As an activist, I am passionate about making a contribution to improving
the wellbeing of people in my community and around the world.
I wish to continue my work with regard to human rights
issues and I look forward to gaining experience and insights from the South
Peter Thompson, Chair Workers of Colour Caucus
I grew up in rural Ottawa, on a horse farm. I went to
Queens University to study x-ray technology,
and started working as a casual at
the LCBO. I got involved with OPSEU while I was still in school,
president of my local. This ended up leading to my involvement in politics, and
worked with a number of candidates and campaigns at all 3 levels of
government. I worked on the last
municipal campaign as a labour organiser, on
the last Federal election as a voter contact organiser,
and in the recent
Provincial election as a campaign manager. I sit on the LBED
Labour Management Committee. I am the Region 4 Provincial Human Rights member,
and am now chair of the Social Justice Committee. I’m also involved in the
Kingston area council, and a member at large on the Kingston District Labour
My name is Amy MacKinnon. I am a 32 year old Registered
Nurse living in Toronto. I have been working at Casey House Hospice, a specialty
hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS, for the past 8 years. During this time
I have been active as a member of OPSEU Local 501 as a steward for 7 years and
Local President for the past 4 years. I have participated on the Bargaining
Committee, Labour Management Committee, as well as the Occupational Health &
Safety Committee as a certified member. I am very excited to be a part of the
Solidarity Tour to South Africa and Malawi this September. Aside from the
extraordinary travel opportunity, I feel I have much to gain as part of this
Solidarity Tour, including an expanded world view – experiencing issues that
face a developing country first hand. As a young woman I am interested in the
issues that face women and girls particularly as they related to gender
equality. As a health care worker in the specialty of HIV/AIDS I am interested
in experiencing the working conditions in a resource limited community as well
as understanding the impact that HIV/AIDS has on the workforce and how they
continue to cope with these challenges.
My Name is Samantha Payne and I am a member of OPSEU
Local 345 at Peterborough Regional Health Centre, in Peterborough Ontario. In
November 2011, after returning to work from my second maternity leave, a
wonderful opportunity presented itself to me, my Union was offering an open call
to its members to be a part of the 2012 International Solidarity Tour to South
Africa. I jumped at the chance to be a part of International Solidarity work and
submitted my application. As a mother of 2 small children, I want to show them
that love is the most important motivator of all, and I express that love for my
fellow human beings by trying to contribute. I feel the most important part of
the tour will be the learning, the experiences that I will be able to bring back
and express to my friends, family and co-workers.
I was notified in December 2011 that I have been
selected as the Region 3 Representative for the Tour to take place in August,
along with 1 representative from each OPSEU region (7). It is now my
responsibility to raise the $5000 needed to travel to Africa to take part in
several Solidarity projects.
Several groups are excited for our arrival and are
securing projects for our group to work with including projects with The Stephen
Lewis Foundation, (e.g. The Bigshoes Foundation) and The Makupo Development
OPSEUs’ Social Justice Fund and Live and Let Live Funds
were created as a response to globalization and a way of working together
towards common goals and strengthening worker organizations and communities
around the world. Solidarity/Humanity Funds have the ability to assist working
people in the countries where they work and live, enhancing economic
development, improving workplace health and safety and ensuring gender equality.
OPSEU Social Justice Funds have been used to construct a new outdoor kitchen for
cooking communal meals (almost every house or village uses wood in an open fire
for cooking and heating water for baths, etc.). As part of Brother Thomas’
(President, OPSEU) tour in 2008 he assisted with installation of solar lights,
was a part of the building of a farm and also well drilling. These are some of
the projects OPSEU continues to be involved in. Solidarity is not charity, OPSEU
Solidarity Funds support projects that will continue to benefit a community.
Wow! Really? A chance to apply with OPSEU to
participate in a SolidarityTour to Africa? Why not take the chance and apply?
Nerves, fear and the unknown had to be overcome to possibly take one more thing
off of my “Bucket List”, a chance to give back to those in Africa. With the
confirmation on December 20th that I had been selected for this tour I was
speechless and that never happens.
Greetings. I am Shannon Nolan, RPN. I am employed at
Edgewater Gardens Long Term Care 64 bed home in Dunnville. We are situated and
adjoined to Haldimand War Memorial Hospital on the banks of the Grand River. I
have been an RPN for the past 23 years and have worked in many health care
facilities from active hospital, walk-in Women’s Health and Long Term Care.
I hold the position of your Sector 8 Vice-Chair for Long
Term Care Division and the newly elected Vice President of Local 214. I also
hold the position of union steward, bargaining committee and health and safety
committee member at Edgewater Gardens.This is my first term as the vice-chair
and vice president and I am meeting both with two feet forward.
My husband Bill and I have been married for 20 years. We
have a son Kiefer, 18 and daughter Kelsey, 16 who along with my extended family
and friends have given me the support to take on this great African Adventure. I
am a very passionate person who does not take on a task lightly. I like to see
my goals met with fun and adventure along the way. With this said I have a
travel companion named Ollie the Scentsy Elephant.Ollie has been with me for the
entire application process and in the end will find a new home with a child
while we are on our travels abroad.
I look forward to meeting the challenges we may face in
our fundraising and while in a country unfamiliar to all of us. I truly am
thankful for the chance to make a difference in the lives of those we shall
encounter along our path of travel.
My name is Darlene Kaboni, born and raised on the
Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, located on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, my
first language being Ojibway. I’m a spouse, mother to a son age 28, and a
grandmother (nookimas) to a one-year old grandson. I have worked two jobs for
many years, one being at Canada Post Corporation since 1987 (part time) as a
clerk and the other with Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology since
1992 (full time in 1996) as the secretary for the First Nations department. I
belong to both the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Ontario
Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
As a member of OPSEU Local 656, I’m on our local
executive as a Steward and the Newsletter Editor. I have represented my local at
the Sudbury Area Council meetings. I am also a member of the OPSEU Aboriginal
Circle. In February 2011, I represented OPSEU as their First Nations
representative for the Horizons of Friendship Tour to Guatemala, Central
America. The tour to Guatemala gave me an opportunity to learn about community
development, social justice and human rights not only of another country but of
a people, the Maya of Guatemala. As an Indigenous person myself, I related to a
lot of what the Maya experience as a nation.
As a member of CUPW Local 612, I’m the CUPW
representative on the Sudbury & District Labour Council Executive Board; I’m the
First Nation representative on the CUPW National Human Rights Committee and on
the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Aboriginal Working Group. I represented the
First Nation Working Group of CUPW at the World People’s Conference on the
Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010 and quickly realized
that we all must stand together, globally, in taking a stand towards human
rights and social justice.
I look forward to being part of the tour to Africa, not
only to visit and learn about another culture but to acquire knowledge that I
can share with others and hope that I also have something that I can share with
them about my own culture. First Nations people are the highest sufferers of
HIV/AIDS, especially amongst women and girls and the reasons for this may be
very similar, such as poverty and domestic violence against Aboriginal women and
I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the 2012 Southern
Africa Solidarity Tour. I still cannot believe I was selected to participate in
this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity.
I work at Confederation College as a support services
officer at our regional campus in Kenora, Ontario and have been with the college
since 2002. I have worked in the education sector in various capacities for over
20 years. I am a member of OPSEU Local #731 in region 7. I graduated with two
diplomas from Confederation College (1985 Social Service Worker and 1998
Aboriginal Law and Advocacy) and I think it is fantastic I am employed by the
college I attended.
My husband is Dan Cameron and we have a daughter, Erin,
age 24 and a son, Sean, age16. I am an Anishinaabe Kwe, and band member of
Whitefish Bay First Nation located one hour south of Kenora. My Anishinaabe
name, Migisikwe, translates to “Eagle Woman”.
I’ve been a member on several local boards in Kenora and
currently sit on the board of the directors for the Lake of the Woods District
Hospital and I believe that if I want to make a difference and make my world a
great place to live, I must be active in it.
I look forward to making new friends and I can only
imagine how this will be a life changing experience for me personally and how
our group can make a difference for those individuals we will have the privilege
of meeting along the way.
name is Mary Cory and I have the honor of participating in the Social Justice
tour to South Africa. I have always been involved in social justice issues and
feel that if I can do something I will at least try to make things better
especially for women and children. I am Vice President of Local 714 in Thunder
Bay where I am employed as a Case Presenting Officer for the Ministry of
Community and Social Services. This is my third term on the Social Justice
Committee. I served two years as Region 7's Provincial Women's Representative
and am also serving my first term as an Executive Board member.
My family knows that if there is
something to be done to make change that I will make every effort to make it
happen. I am pleased that my family including my granddaughter Hayleigh
understands that it takes little steps to make big changes. I am proud of
OPSEU's involvement with respect to social justice and know that this experience
is a once in a lifetime opportunity.