Celebrating Black History Month
Posted 2018-Feb-1

"In our union's proud history of promoting and supporting equality, Steelworkers celebrate Black History Month annually," said Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada of the United Steelworkers.

"We celebrate the accomplishments of black Canadian people in society, acknowledge the achievements of activists in our union and encourage Steelworkers to continue the struggle for equality. We are beginning to recognize that despite advances in equality, racism has played a historic part in our national experience. This experience has also led to discrimination against black immigrants and Canadians in our workplaces." (Read the full statement at http://1944.fyi/aTLp7h)

The Canadian Labour Congress will be hosting a series of podcasts throughout the month of February to commemorate Black History Month, including a French podcast of Isabelle Miller, National Vice-President of the TWU, USW National Local 1944. The podcasts will be available on the CLC Web site at http://canadianlabour.ca.

In Canada, the commemoration of black history dates back to the 1920's; February was officially recognized as Black History Month in 1996. February is a month to celebrate the history, culture, achievements and many contributions of Black Canadians who, over the centuries, have done so much to make our country culturally diverse and prosperous.

Viola Desmond, Dany Laferrière, Lincoln Alexander or Mathieu Da Costa are just a few of the people of African descent who have shaped Canada into the country it is today. Still, their stories too often go untold, because of centuries of systemic oppression and intersectional discrimination.

Black History Month reminds us of the need for vigilance: today in Canada, progress is still not felt by people equally, and discrimination is still a daily reality for many black Canadians and other visible minorities. The TWU, USW National Local 1944 believes in breaking down those barriers so that equality can exist, both in the workplace and in our daily lives.

In a public announcement this week, the Prime Minister has officially recognized the International Decade for People of African Descent, from 2015 to 2024. This Decade commits Canada to a better future for black Canadians. Watch the announcement at http://1944.fyi/KpNBMn

"Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate our differences and diverse cultural backgrounds, that make us stronger," said Lee Riggs, National President of the TWU, USW National Local 1944. "This February, I invite our members to share and enjoy their differences. I believe that this is not about being colour-blind: it is about being colour-proud in the workplace and in our communities."

How you can take action during Black History Month and throughout the year:

  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution's Article VII, Section 12;
  • Work with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU);
  • Stand up and speak out on your own against racist comments and jokes in our communities and workplaces;
  • Join the New Democratic Party, whether federally or provincially, to contribute to the elimination of racial discrimination.

Many events will be organized to celebrate Black History Month throughout Canada, and the Civil and Human Rights Committee encourages our members to check the listing in your local communities to join in.


In Solidarity,


The Telecommunications Workers Union, United Steelworkers National Local 1944