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OPSEU Region 5 recognizes ‘Women of Impact’

People eat during OPSEU Region 5 event recognizing women of impact
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On December 5, 2018, a large crowd of OPSEU members gathered for Region 5’s “Women of Impact” Recognition Awards. Carol Mundley, chair of the Provincial Women’s Committee, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU Second Vice-President Sarah Labelle and Region 5 Executive Board Member Kingsley Kwok were among those who attended.

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Guests enjoy conversation over dinner

Following dinner and entertainment, the conference gave a warm welcome to keynote speaker Patty Coates, secretary/treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour. She underscored the importance of recognizing the most active women in OPSEU – and went on to ask if she could count on each of the attendees to join future OPSEU protests.

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OFL Secretary/Treasurer Patty Coates

Coates also spoke movingly of the women in the postal union in 1981, who were the first to ask for maternity leave benefits – something all women now benefit from, thanks to their initiative and efforts.

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The lives of murdered and missing women were honoured

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Krista Maracle (l) and Luisa Lampitoc, alternate chair for Provincial Women’s Committee, at the vigil

Attendees then participated in a candle light vigil and minute of silence in observation of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. This sombre anniversary commemorates the 14 women who were murdered at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1990, as well as at least 78 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Each of their names was read, while background information and photos were displayed.

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Amy Steele with Sarah Labelle and President Thomas

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Crystal Sinclair with Patty Coates and Kingsley Kwok

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Emma Andrew-Julien with Sarah Labelle (l), President Thomas and Carol Mundley (r)

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Janice Ross with Sarah Labelle and President Thomas

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Nancy Pridham with Patty Coates (l) and Kingsley Kwok

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Sandra Small with Patty Coates (l) and Kingsley Kwok

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Tanya Warner with Sarah Labelle (l), President Thomas and Carol Mundley

The evening continued with the award presentations. JP Hornick, Chantale Francis and Angie Sharma‑Lowe were among those honoured, but were unable to be present for the ceremony. Following more entertainment, Carol Mundley delivered closing remarks.

She later heard from several participants, who described the event as “classy” and “thoughtful.” One attendee said the ceremony had been done with “much love, thought and consideration of the audience.” Others described it as “empowering,” “inspiring, “influential,” and “intimate and friendly.”

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Carol Mundley, chair of OPSEU’s Provincial Women’s Committee

There were also several shout-outs for the smooth notes of saxophone player Shelkah Francis and the graceful moves of the Deewani Dance Group.

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Members of the Deewani Dance Group perform

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Shelkah Francis wowed them with her saxaphone sounds

President Thomas said it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and very inspiring.

“Every time I think I couldn’t be more proud of this union, something happens that raises the bar even higher. We’ve recognized some extraordinary OPSEU members for their achievements, which have made Ontario a better place for everyone.

“I warmly congratulate all those honorees whose contributions have advanced the rights and role of women, both within the union and throughout the province in general.”

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Guests at their tables