The inSolidarity Committee welcomes all members and guests to our union’s highest ranking authority, Convention, where delegates debate and vote on policy and constitutions motions.
Whether this is your first Convention or 50th, we hope the next few days are productive, filled with learning and most importantly, fun for all!
While Convention officially starts on Thursday at 9am, there have already been a number of events held Wednesday evening, including the Indigenous Circle Smudging, New Delegates Orientation and the Budget Q&A.
The inSol Committee is proud to report on Convention 2023, and we hope you enjoy reading our coverage as much as we enjoy writing it.
Craig Hadley, L5109, Chair
Christina Chrysler, L417
Michael Hamilton, L376
Marilyn Ott, L110
Lorinda Seward, L351
Tara Maszczakiewicz, Executive Board Liaison
Michelle Langlois, Staff Liaison
Indigenous Circle smudging ceremony helps members see, hear, and speak the truth
Traces of sage still linger on the Convention floor after members of the Indigenous Circle held a smudging ceremony Wednesday afternoon to prepare the space for coming events. Drawing a diverse crowd of over 100 OPSEU/SEFPO members, attendants had the opportunity to actively participate in the ceremony.
Indigenous smudging ceremonies are used to purify and cleanse a person or space of negative thoughts using the smoke produced by burning dried sage. Those being smudged use their hands to direct the smoke to their eyes, mouth, ears, heart, and earth. This sacred act helps participants to “see the truth, hear the truth, and speak the truth”, explained Krista Maracle (Indigenous Circle Chair), who guided participants through the smudging process.
OPSEU/SEFPO members were asked to form a large circle which allowed each person to be smudged. Maracle, assisted by other members of the Indigenous Circle, individually smudged each participant before embarking on the larger task of smudging the entire Convention space, including the perimeter, microphones and speakers.
If you would like to participate in an Indigenous Circle smudging ceremony, another will be held Saturday morning at 7am in Simcoe Park (directly across the street from the MTCC North Building). All members are invited to participate.
Meeting the needs of OPSEU/SEFPO members at Convention
OPSEU/SEFPO has proactively equipped its members to organize, fight, and win in all areas of life. Convention 2023 offers services and amenities to help members focus and stay grounded.
To this end, OPSEU/SEFPO has provided a wellness room and a prayer room, as well as a full marketplace.
The wellness room is back by popular demand. Complete with a lounge and a private area to rest, it is available to all who find themselves needing a break or wishing to de-stress. Additionally, there are personnel available to welcome attendees and to talk, and a quiet space to relax. The wellness room is located in Room 203 DC from 9-5, during Convention.
The prayer room welcomes persons of all faiths and traditions. All are encouraged to utilize the prayer room, located in 201A from 9-5 during Convention.
The marketplace provides the opportunity to purchase something, or browse and to talk to various vendors. We encourage everyone to visit Hall C between the hours of 8am to 6pm during Convention. There are many great items for purchase, including OPSEU/SEFPO branded items from the OPSEU/SEFPO Shop and also lots of promotional items being given away.
Also, be sure to check out the raffles and silent auction, the proceeds of which will be donated to OPSEU/SEFPO’s Solidarity Funds, which include the Social Justice Fund and Live and Let Live Fund.
New Delegates Seminar: Helping first-time Convention attendees feel more prepared and less overwhelmed
More than 2,000 delegates, alternates and observers have signed up for OPSEU/SEFPO’s Convention 2023, and most of them have descended on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to discuss and vote on resolutions pertaining to policy and the constitution. This hybrid event is taking place from April 20–22, 2023 for in-person and virtual attendance.
For first-time Convention attendees, the event can seem overwhelming and confusing, so a New Delegates Seminar was held on April 19, the night before Convention opening. This hybrid orientation saw approximately 75 people in-person and an additional 20 online.
OPSEU/SEFPO negotiator Bryan Stamm opened the seminar by saying that the purpose of Convention is ultimately to conduct union business but it’s also an opportunity to network with other members. “The Constitution drives what happens at Convention, so it’s important to listen and understand,” he said.
Barb Byers, the Advisor on Rules of Order for Convention 2023, walked those in attendance through Robert’s Rules of Order and what to expect on the floor during Convention. While rules are important, Byers did caution that “if we get too caught up in rules, that time comes out of time allotted to deal with the issues of union business”.
New delegates heard from Kim Kazur, Chair of the Resolutions Committee and Dave Wakely, Chair of the Constitution Committee. “Resolutions are the work that’s done on the floor” said Kazur, “so it’s important to review all the resolutions prior to the start of Convention”. Wakely highlighted the difference between resolutions and constitutional amendments. “Constitutional amendments are changes to the actual wording of the Constitution” he said.
By show of hands, the overwhelming majority of those in attendance were first time Convention attendees. Cameron Sharp, Local 500 who attended this orientation as he has never been to Convention said he found the session very helpful, especially in learning the difference between resolutions and constitutional amendments. “I also learned that it’s important to actually read the Constitution” he said.
While Victoria Maystruk from Local 352 attended virtually as an observer last year, this is her first-time attending Convention in person as a delegate. “I wanted to attend this session as I will be voting this year and it’s important to be as informed as possible” she said.