by Emily Leedham
From May 8-11, 2019, Winnipeg unions hosted the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike Centenary Conference: inviting union members, labour activists and leaders from across Canada to reflect on the history for the General Strike, and apply its lessons to the present and future of the labour movement.
This episode will explore the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the labour movement, compiling audio from two separate panels – Building an Inclusive Labour Movement and Colonialism, Race and the Winnipeg General Strike, as well as audio from the Winnipeg Labour Choir recorded by Paul Graham on May 15, 2019.
First we’ll hear from Leslie Spillett, founder of Ka Ni Kanichihk, a non-profit which provides programming and services to support Indigenous communities, discusses the importance of cultural diversity in the labour movement.
Then we’ll hear from Jerry Woods, Anishnaabe labour activist, who addresses the differences between overt and passive racism.
Then, Adele Perry, author of Aqueduct, Colonialism, Resources and the Histories We Remember, explores the intertwining history of the 1919 General Strike and the construction of the Shoal Lake 40 aqueduct. The aqueduct utilized Indigenous labour while simultaneously displacing Indigenous communities, and erasing them from the history of the working class.
And, Owen Toews, author of Stolen City: Racial Capitalism and the Making of Winnipeg, discusses how labour’s relationship with prisons and policing inhibits solidarity building today.
Closing out is a final comment from Dr. Karine Duhamel who was the Director of Research for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.