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March 12, 2019

The OFL mourns the passing of Edith Mary Johnston, one of the first five female vice-presidents elected to the OFL in 1983. She was 98.

“Edith Mary Johnston was a trailblazer,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “Her life’s work for fairness and equality at work is an example of change in action, and leaves an inspiring legacy for labour activists that follow.”

Johnston became active in her union while working at 3M where she fought for equality for women.

She became the full-time Financial Officer for Local 27 UAW (now Unifor) from 1966 to 1975.  In 1976, she was appointed as an International Representative of the UAW where she became the Director of Woman’s Programs for Canada. She was elected as one of the OFL’s first five female vice-presidents’ in 1983. After her retirement in 1985 she worked on retiree issues. It was that work for which she was awarded the Order of Canada.

She was inducted into the Canadian Labour Hall of Fame and was a recipient of the London & District Labour Council “Tolpuddle Martyr Award.”

“It is the work of women like Edith Johnston that has pushed equality for women forward in Canada,” said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates. “As labour activists and feminists, we can look to her as a role model on how to keep up the fight for change. Her accomplishments have paved the way for women coming after her. It is a great legacy.”

A Celebration of Life will be held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery Chapel, 303 Riverside Drive, London, Ontario on Saturday, March 30th at 10 am with sharing of memories to follow.  All are welcome.  Memorial donations are appreciated and can be made to a charity of your choice. Click here for additional details and to view her obituary.

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