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UFCW Canada’s Youth Internship Program (YIP) recently launched a “Farm Workers Feed Communities” summer course in Leamington, Ontario. The program was met with great success as the youth organized and led a series of outreach initiatives including a community barbeque that celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) support centre in Leamington. It was the students’ enthusiasm and hard work that attracted over 1000 local agriculture workers and community members to the event.
The program’s accomplishments can be credited to the dedicated, passionate and ambitious young individuals who participated in the program. Over the two-week course, the youths' blog spot received 5,000 views and their project’s Facebook page was shared over 50 times. They were offered a public service announcement on a Leamington community cable channel, an editorial in the Leamington Post, and were interviewed on a local radio show. As well, local businesses provided the YIP project with 30 donations, and over 50 companies endorsed their project.
UFCW Canada national representative Pablo Godoy, who co-directed the program said, “It is amazing achievements like this that raise awareness in the community, of the power and capabilities of Canadian youth and why we need to continue to engage them in social justice work.”
The goal of the program was to engage the students in social activism and inform them of the growing issue of precarious employment in Canada, a concern that repeatedly affects the migrant farm worker community. UFCW Canada national representative Enver Harbans, who helped facilitate the event said, “This YIP project opened our eyes to the realities of the precarious conditions of farm work, and is a great reminder to our members and all workers in our country why we need to challenge the neoliberal agenda imposed on labour.”
Throughout the summer months regional YIP programs will continue to take place across Canada in Ontario (June), B.C. (July) and New Brunswick (August). Young activists who are interested in participating in upcoming activities should contact their Local Union Presidents or visit UFCW Canada online at www.ufcw.ca/youth.