This year, we celebrate Black History Month with a focus on the theme ‘Black Resistance’. The theme Black Resistance shines light on the unwavering strength of Black voices, past, present, and in the future; and in their dedication to dismantling systemic barriers of discrimination and oppression in the face of historical and ongoing acts of racial violence, Black activists have continued to resist, and raise their voices to advocate for a better, and more equitable world.
OPSEU/SEFPO proudly represents many culturally diverse members who identify as Black. In addition to the important, meaningful work they do within their communities and workplaces across Ontario, Black OPSEU/SEFPO members have contributed significantly to our union’s culture and values. Since its inception in 2003, the Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) (formerly the Workers of Colour Caucus) has advocated against and challenged policies and practices which are rooted in systemic racism and ensured that Black and racialized members’ voices are heard.
The Social Mapping Project, which the CoRW was integral to its foundation and integration into OPSEU/SEFPO, is a ground-breaking demographic survey and review of OPSEU/SEFPO’s membership systems and structure. The recommendations from this have resulted in stronger measures being used to embed equity into the organization, including anti-Black racism training and educationals with an equity focus. They have used their platform, first as a Caucus and now as a Committee, with decision-making power in OPSEU/SEFPO’s Constitution, to continuously make OPSEU/SEFPO a more equitable, anti-racist union.
As part of an amendment to OPSEU/SEFPO’s Constitution, which the CoRW advocated for to break down systemic racism and remove systemic barriers to union participation of Black, Racialized, and Indigenous members, OPSEU/SEFPO will be rolling out a program in 2023-24: Dismantling Systemic Racism in OPSEU/SEFPO. This program is being developed by an Advisory Committee of CoRW members, Indigenous Circle members, and OPSEU/SEFPO staff. Training will be aimed at contract bargaining with an anti-racism lens, and Dismantling Systemic Racism training for the local leadership, and taking steps to remove barriers to participation.
OPSEU/SEFPO is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization, where everyone is included, accepted, and supported. This Black History Month, let us acknowledge all the Black voices that have resisted, and continue to resist, anti-Black racism. Most importantly, let us all model their strength and purposes, and echo their courage to create an anti-racist society.
This month, OPSEU/SEFPO members are invited to attend two hybrid Black History Month events being hosted by the Coalition of Racialized Workers with the theme ‘Who We Are’:
These events will celebrate the incredible progress achieved by the CoRW, and the path forward for Black, Indigenous, and racialized members within OPSEU/SEFPO. Interested members can RSVP at: firstname.lastname@example.org