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Saskatoon, Sask. – March 14, 2014 – UFCW Canada women from across Saskatchewan gathered in Saskatoon March 8 and 9, for the 8th annual UFCW Saskatchewan Women’s Conference, hosted by the UFCW Canada Local 1400 Education & Training Centre. Keynote speaker Cam Broten, leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, lit up the room at the Friday evening conference opening with his exuberant passion for politics and hope of a better, brighter, and more inclusive future for the people of Saskatchewan.
On Saturday, women activists from UFCW Canada Locals 1400, 248P and 649 were challenged to “Rethink Childcare” through a roundtable discussion led by UFCW Canada national representative Lily Olson, who outlined how childcare is not just a woman’s issue, but an issue for all parents and working families. Sister Olson also led the participants through a “Together Fairness Works” information session. Both of these courses were created by UFCW Canada, and are being used across the country to engage and educate UFCW Canada members that unions are more important than ever in the wake of the current ultra-Conservative anti-worker agenda.
The conference participants then headed for a tour of Station 20 West. This community enterprise centre was built despite the fact the ultra-right Saskatchewan Party provincial government pulled all funding for this essential project in 2008. This building houses a number of community-based organizations providing a participatory approach to affordable housing, employment and educational support; transitional housing to mothers in danger of losing their children; the University of Saskatchewan Outreach and Engagement Centre; and a member-owned, not-for-profit grocery store that is the only grocery store in the area, providing good food at a reasonable price. Fifty-five new housing units and a library complete the area. Station 20 is now a cornerstone in the revitalization of the ‘inner city’ of Saskatoon that has suffered over 40 years of disinvestment.
With the childcare theme in mind, the UFCW women activists also brought donations to the Mother’s Centre — a community organization also housed within Station 20. This centre was born out of the needs of the community and is a unique and safe ‘public living room’ where mothers can meet to support each other and their children.
To support leukemia research, conference participants also raised money through a 50/50 draw, raffles, and beverage sales. Social media was a very important component of this event, with Twitter and Facebook making a huge impact: people were retweeting and viewing the Facebook Page and pictures more than ever. The UFCW Saskatchewan Women’s Committee Twitter account (@ufcw1400women) made almost 25,000 impressions through live tweeting throughout the event, which is a testament to another successful conference!