Late OPSEU/SEFPO member, John Rae, influential activist and a dear friend to many, has been posthumously honoured by the Ontario Federation of Labour by being inducted into the 2022 OFL Honour Roll.
For those who knew John, this esteemed recognition comes as no surprise; whether in his role as a public sector worker, public speaker, consultant, or activist, John was widely acknowledged as an important voice in advocating for disabilities rights and injured workers. He relentlessly challenged the status quo to improve access and inclusion, and inspired many with his wellspring of knowledge and magnetic charisma.
Sadly, John left us in April 2022 following OPSEU/SEFPO Convention. Shortly after his passing, the OPSEU/SEFPO Disability Rights Caucus (DRC) eulogized John’s memory, speaking of his lasting impact and influence.
Greg Snider, Local 740, was a close friend of John’s, and had been with him during the formation of the Disability Rights Caucus.
“John Rae was a relentless activist and ally,” said Greg. “John is unequalled in his determination to obtain justice for blind or disabled Canadians and injured workers, only matched by his knowledge of the issues and his skill at lobbying. On more than one occasion he used the legal system to force change.”
In a joint statement, Disability Right Caucus co-chairs Janet Heyman and Susan Fournier commented on this great honour bestowed upon John Rae.
“John was an active member for disability rights in OPSEU/SEFPO and was a member of the DRC. He was integral to a variety of organizations, including the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Ontario Network of Injured Workers, and a keynote speaker, at many events, bringing forward many of the injustices that affected individuals with disabilities. One challenge he brought to the forefront was the unfair practices of Elections Canada for those with disabilities. John Rae’s Zoom memorial brought together brothers and sisters from all over the world, including Canada (Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec), Australia, and England, and showed how he touched such a diverse gathering of supporters. He is sorely missed, and often remembered as a strong spokesperson for those with disabilities. You felt safe with John as your advocate! The recognition from the OFL as a member of their honour roll is well deserved.”
“John Rae was a powerful advocate for disability rights and won the hearts and minds of many.” Said OPSEU/SEFPO President, JP Hornick “The OFL has rightfully acknowledged a hero, and the world is a better place after having John Rae in it. Thank you, John.”
Annually, the OFL inducts five retired or deceased individuals into the prestigious Honour Roll to acknowledge their contributions to the trade union movement in Ontario. John’s highly deserved inclusion reflects his legacy; the invaluable contributions of a long and varied career dedicated to eliminating all barriers for people with disabilities.
John’s name will be enshrined on a plaque and displayed along with other luminaries in the OFL offices, and formally acknowledged at the OFL Convention in November 2023.