The first ever PSAC BC Regional Conference for Racially Visible Members was held May 13 through 15 under the theme “Race Forward: Our Union, Our Community, Our Future!”.
Thirty-five PSAC members gathered in Vancouver over the weekend to discuss, strategize and mobilize on issues impacting racially visible members in BC, share experiences and network, and empower and inspire themselves and others to become active in our union, our community, and our workplaces.
The participants heard from PSAC National President Robyn Benson, who spoke about ways to move human rights and equity issues forward within our union, and from Marie Clarke Walker, Executive VP of the Canadian Labour Congress, who spoke about groundbreaking racially visible leaders in the union movement, including Cal Best – one of the founders of the PSAC.
A panel presentation also included Darla Tomeldan of the Westcoast Domestic Workers’ Association who spoke about temporary foreign workers and used the Philippines as a case study as to why so many workers are desperate to leave their country despite the vulnerability and challenges faced by workers in precarious jobs; Natasha Tony, an IATSE Local 891 activist who spoke about the psycho-social impact of bullying and harassment on racially visible workers, how this relates to mental health issues and how to address these issues; and Lorene Oikawa, of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association, who spoke about the principles of employment equity and the need for equity in our society.
Christepher Wee, an educator and LGBTQ+ activist, also spoke to the group and challenged them to “race forward”, become leaders, and take action. And last but by no means least, the Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective Society gave a performance and presentation that connected the issues that indigenous groups in the Philippines to some of the same issues indigenous people face here in Canada.
The participants also spent time in a series of workshops designed to deepen their understanding of the need for employment equity as well as give them resources and tools to overcome barriers, build networks, and take on issues that affect racially visible people in our union, in our communities, and in our workplaces.
Here are some photos …. visit our facebook page for lots more!