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Celebrating Jewish Ontarians’ proud heritage of fighting for fairness

Two people lighting candles in the shape of the Jewish Star of David.

From politics to pop culture, from academia to architecture, and from restaurants to retail; Jewish people have made impressive contributions in all walks of life in Ontario.

We celebrate all those contributions every May, which was officially declared Jewish Heritage Month by the Ontario Legislature in 2012. The federal government followed suit in 2018.

It’s an official recognition that is long overdue. People of Jewish heritage arrived in what we now call North America with some of the earliest European settlers, and their communities have been growing steadily ever since, adding so much to our province and our country.

As proud trade unionists, we’d like to pay particular tribute to the Jewish community’s unique and courageous contributions to the progressive values of fairness and social justice that are now carried so proudly by OPSEU/SEFPO and many other unions in the labour movement.

From before the Second World War, the Jewish Labour Committee was a strong and persistent voice calling for an end to all forms of discrimination in both workplaces and unions.

In the 1950s, the Canadian Jewish Congress was an important ally in the fight for legislation against discrimination in the workplace in the face of widespread anti-Black racism being practised by many restaurants and businesses in Ontario.

We can all feel proud of these early victories against discrimination and hate – and Jewish Ontarians and Canadians deserve our appreciation and gratitude for leading the way both in the past and into the future.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU/SEFPO

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU/SEFPO

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