Artist creates a vision of solidarity


Toronto – January 14, 2013 – There is a long history of mural art and the labour movement, and UFCW Canada is helping that history continue.

This past July, more than a thousand agriculture workers gathered in Leamington, Ontario to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first-ever Agriculture Workers Alliance support centre in Leamington, Ontario. To mark the occasion, UFCW Canada and the AWA commissioned Chilean-born, Canadian-based social activist artist Gilda Monreal to create a mural to honour the tens of thousands of migrant workers who toil each season in Canada's agriculture sector.

"Many people don't really think about where our food comes from, and the hardship and loneliness that migrant workers endure to bring us that food," says Sister Monreal. "So I was grateful for the opportunity to help acknowledge their sacrifice, and to give a face that symbolizes the tremendous contribution migrant workers make to the Leamington community and across Canada."  The mural is now a permanent fixture of the Leamington AWA centre, and a new visual landmark in the heart of one of Canada's most intensive agriculture areas.

In addition to her visual art, Gilda Monreal is also a multilingual actress working in theatre, film and television. She is also the Co-founder and Co-Director of the International Essencia Arts Collective that is dedicated to using art as a tool for social change and community empowerment. Over the past two years, Gilda has also co-partnered with Students Against Migrant Exploitation (SAME) for a number of community mural projects including one at the Driftwood Community Centre in Toronto, as well as the Leamington project.

Sister Monreal's most recent mural project was a stunning work-in-progress on full display at the recent 11th UFCW Canada National Council Convention. In just two days, the activist artist created a vibrant and powerful testament to the strength and spirit of solidarity. "It was great to be in place with so many activist brothers and sisters. Their energy inspired me as an advocate, as an artist, and as a worker."