Convention at a Glance 2: Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel achieves constitutional status

Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel co-chair Morgan Veres at OPSEU/SEFPO Convention 2022.

Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel achieves constitutional status

Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel co-chair Morgan Veres.

By Michael Hamilton and Dan McKnight

OPSEU/SEFPO members have a great reason to feel Pride. An amendment to OPSEU/SEFPO’s Constitution was passed overwhelmingly by delegates to grant official committee status to the Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel. The Alliance would be entitled to one delegate per region who would attend Convention with voting rights.

Morgen Veres, co-chair of Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel, gave a powerful introduction to this amendment. She said it was needed so “no one walks alone.” Veres also stated the Alliance is opting for self-selection based on members who express interest in being a part of the Alliance, with two members per region. The Alliance members will get to go to the CLC, OFL and NUPGE with voting rights.

“Only those written into the Constitution will be written into the union,” said Veres. Diversity is one of our union’s greatest strengths. This constitutional amendment will allow the Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel to drive change within OPSEU/SEFPO.

Robert Hampsey, Region 5 Rep for the Alliance, also spoke passionately to this amendment. They noted for the last 15 years, they were seated in the margins of the Convention floor, as they did not have delegate status. “I was relegated to the margins,” they said, “but you will now give me the right to be here.”

OPSEU/SEFPO members at Convention gave a thunderous standing ovation when this amendment passed. It was a very proud day for OPSEU/SEFPO.

Peter Thompson, chair of the Coalition of Racialized Workers, spoke in support of this constitutional amendment for the Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel. He noted the Coalition of Racialized Workers Coalition is also seeking provincial committee status in the Constitution.

Buffy Sainte-Marie takes Stanley H. Knowles Humanitarian Award

By Marilyn Ott

Buffy Sainte-MarieStanley Knowles was widely regarded as an expert on parliamen­tary procedure in Canada. He served as the House Leader for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, later renamed the New Democratic Party, and was a leading advocate for social justice in his time.

Knowles was largely responsible for the increase to old age secu­rity benefits and for introducing the Canada Pension Plan, among other features of our “welfare state”.

Buffy Sainte-Marie, this year’s recipient, was born on the Plains Cree First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan. She was adopted and lived in the USA; graduating from the University of Massachusetts.

Sainte-Marie has released more than 20 albums, taking the only Academy Award ever to be won by a First Nations artist, and has committed herself to activism and leadership.

Saint-Marie has 13 honorary doctorates. She has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was awarded a Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award in 2010.

In addition to being a beloved folk hero and iconic songwriter, she is a tireless advocate for Indigenous rights and freedoms.
Unfortunately, Sainte-Marie was out of the country and could not receive the award in person. Accepting the award on her behalf was Dana Copeland of Local 109, Fanshawe College, Sainte-Ma­rie’s nominator, said:

“Buffy believed then, and still believes, that informed people can help make things better. OPSEU/SEFPO’s Indigenous Circle works hard to educate us about the Truth of out colonialist history and has been calling us to action to participate in Reconciliation

Fiscal transparency headlines First Vice-President/Treasurer Q&A

Eduardo Almeida Laurie Nancekivell

By Craig Hadley

First Vice-President Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida and Region 1 RVP Laurie Nancekivell squared off in yesterday’s First Vice-President/Treasurer ques­tion-and-answer period.

Each candidate was given a minute to answer ran­domly selected questions from the membership. The questions ranged from governance and fiscal transparency to leadership and each candidate’s vision for OPSEU/SEFPO.


Hard-hitting questions for the presidential candidates

Tara Maszczakiewicz Ed Arvelin

JP Hornick Sara Labelle

By Michael Hamilton

During the question-and-answer period for the presidential candidates, the membership had the opportunity to ask the candidates their thoughts on their vision for OPSEU/SEFPO. Some of the questions ranged from equity to significant changes they could foresee happening in OPSEU/SEFPO. The presidential candidates are Ed Arvelin, JP Hornick, Sara Labelle and Tara Maszczakiewicz.

A few specific questions stood out, such as, “What have you done to advance racialized workers in your local?” Educating and advancing racialized workers has been an initiative that OPSEU/SEFPO has vowed to do better on. Another question asked was, “What is the biggest change that you will implement for the union?” Many members have been clamouring for change within the executive of OPSEU/SEFPO, and it was great to hear the answers that were provided.

Finally, a question that many members wanted more clarity on was, “In the role of President, how will you repair a broken labour relationship in the house of labour?” Many members understand that there has been division amongst the CLC, NUPGE and the OFL. OPSEU/SEFPO is an affiliate with all of these union organizations. All candidates agreed there will be challenges repairing the relations in the house of labour.

It’s rare that union politics can be both exciting and informative, but today’s Q&A period was just that – and a perfect lead-up to the elections.