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Toronto – November 6, 2014 – Over 300 UFCW Canada activists, agriculture workers and community allies gathered in Toronto for the 14th Annual UFCW Canada AWA Awards Dinner. The AWA Awards are dedicated to recognizing the incredible contributions of individuals and organizations who advocate on behalf of agriculture workers and their rights.
"We are here tonight to acknowledge some of our collective victories," said UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema as he welcomed participants. "We are also here to recommit ourselves to this very worthy cause, to secure dignity for all agriculture workers in Canada."
The recipients of the 2014 UFCW Canada – AWA Awards include:
Romeo Yup Iquite – UFCW Canada Local 501 Steward and Activist
Romeo was one of the leaders who helped his fellow agriculture workers organize and certify a UFCW Canada Local 501 union bargaining unit at their workplace at the Demers agriculture operation in Saint-Nicolas, Quebec. Romeo also represents his co-workers as a shop steward, and remains a committed activist for the just treatment of migrant workers in Quebec.
Alain Lachaîne – President, UFCW Canada Local 501
Under the leadership of President Alain Lachaîne, Local 501 membership in the agriculture sector has grown to the largest of any UFCW union local in North America. Local 501 has also secured legal victories in a number of civil and human rights cases.
Jackie Edmonds, Staff Lawyer – Income Security Advocacy Centre
The Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) is a non-profit Toronto legal clinic that works to address issues of income security and poverty. In September 2014, access to EI Parental Benefits was finally returned to 102 migrant agriculture workers in Southern Ontario, thanks to the legal efforts of ISAC and other community partners. Jackie Edmonds was the lead legal counsel for ISAC on the case.
Jennifer Pothier, Executive Director – Niagara North Community Legal Assistance
Jennifer Pothier is the Executive Director of Niagara North Community Legal Assistance (NNCLA). NNCLA is a non-profit legal clinic which provides access to legal services for low-income members of the community, including migrant agriculture workers in the region. NNCLA did the original casework and tribunal appeals for the 102 migrant workers whose right to Parental Benefits was originally denied.
Jinny Sims, MP – NDP Critic for Employment and Social Development
Jinny Sims is the NDP Member of Parliament for Newton-North Delta and is currently the official Opposition Critic for Employment and Social Development. Jinny has worked extensively with the AWA and UFCW Canada to stop the government blacklisting of migrant farm workers in British Columbia, and has consistently advocated for the rights of temporary foreign workers at the federal level.
View the image gallery for pictures of the event.