Activists 'Rise Up!' to empower equity and inclusion


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Ottawa – October 24, 2016 – UFCW Canada activists joined labour and community allies from across Canada in Ottawa for the Rise Up! CLC Human Rights Conference, October 20-23. Hosted by the Canadian Labour Congress, the conference focused on new and creative ways to empower and engage workers to build a stronger labour movement based on the foundation of equity and inclusion.

Throughout the four-day conference, participants learned about some of the challenges faced daily by some of the most marginalized groups in Canada. Activists also learned new perspectives on how to tackle issues of sexism, systemic racism, the stigma around mental health and more.

"There are millions of workers throughout Canada and around the world who need a strong voice to stand up to the injustice they face daily," says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema." As labour activists, we must continue to grow and adapt to the ever-changing social landscape and ensure that the rights and dignity of workers around the world are protected."

A key panel discussion focused on how to challenge the status quo and advance human rights. The panel featured UFCW Canada Local 500 activist Rosannie Filato, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) Executive Director Dr. Cindy Blackstock, journalist Desmond Cole, Bonnie Brayton, of the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada, and NUPGE Executive Vice-President Sussanne Skidmore.

UFCW Canada activists also contributed as moderators and participants in other panel discussions centred on worker rights, including: new approaches to organizing new sectors and meeting the needs of today's unorganized workforce; a panel focused on the responsibility of labour activists to highlight human rights issues within the labour movement; as well as in a panel entitled "Uber, Airbnb, the 'gig economy' and the Changing Nature of Work", which examined the  emergence of the "sharing economy" and how the labour must adapt to protect the rights of workers facing evolving precarious business models.

'Rise Up! 2016' was the second National Human Rights Conference hosted by the Canadian Labour Congress. Presenters at the conference also included CLC President Hassan Yussuff, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (CBTU) President Terry Melvin, human rights activist Danny Glover, Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj, and Twitter Canada strategist Jennifer Hollett.