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June 9, 2017

The OFL mourns the passing of Brother Stan Raper, who died June 5.

A staunch labour and farm worker advocate who worked on behalf of domestic and migrant agriculture workers for more than two decades, Raper was born in Fort Frances, Ontario in 1961. As a teenager and high school student, he learned first-hand about the challenges faced by farm workers when he worked part-time as an agricultural worker at a field and greenhouse operation in Coldwater, Ontario.

From 1994-1999, he served as the Canadian Co-ordinator of the United Farm Workers of America. Then, in 2000, with the help of UFCW Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress, Brother Raper launched the Global Justice Caravan Program, traveling throughout Ontario’s farm country in a mobile RV documenting the plight of migrant agriculture workers labouring in the province.

Two years later, Raper was named the National Co-ordinator of the UFCW Canada Agriculture Workers Program. Serving in this role, he co-ordinated the opening of the first UFCW Canada Agriculture Workers Support Centre in Leamington, Ontario, and also pioneered the groundbreaking UFCW Canada National Report on the Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada, first published in 2002.

He went on to become the National Co-ordinator of the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) in 2006, where he assisted with the opening of additional agriculture worker support centres in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, and helped build the AWA into the largest agriculture workers’ organization in North America, with more than 14,000 members across Canada.

In addition to co-ordinating the AWA, he was an active participant in three groundbreaking UFCW Canada legal challenges regarding the constitutional right of agriculture workers to unionize; the right of Ontario agriculture workers to be covered under the OHSA; and the right of migrant workers to be treated equitably under the federal EI system, respectively.

“The labour movement has lost a powerful advocate in Stan,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “The organizing work he did was powerful, in a sector where many workers are unprotected by employment law. Stan inspired activists across the country.”

A Celebration of Life for Stan is being held on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the Grantham Optimist Youth Centre on 188 Linwell Road in St. Catharines, Ontario from 2 – 4 p.m.

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