November 23, 2017
“The rise of hate, white supremacy is not new to the labour movement, but we need to be concerned. We must act,” said moderator, Walied Khogali, Leader with the Coalition Against White Supremacy & Islamophobia.
Panelists took to the OFL Convention stage on Wednesday afternoon to discuss strategies to mobilize and work against rising oppression and racism in today’s society.
Mohammed Hashim, Senior Organizer with the Toronto & York District Labour Council opened up the discussion by highlighting the need to create safe spaces for marginalized groups. He told delegates about the creation of a safe space for Muslim community members inside Toronto City Council Chambers, at a time when anti-Islamic protesters were gathered outside City Hall.
Canadian Federation of Students Ontario Chairperson, Nour Alideeb told delegates about first getting involved with her own student union: “I was drawn to my student union because of the work that they were doing, bringing people together to stand up against systems of oppression and hate,” she said.
Patti Dalton, President of the London & District Labour Council, spoke about the important role labour councils play in organizing and mobilizing against fascism and oppression in their communities.
“Labour has a long history of mobilizing around social justice issues. This is exactly what unions do,” said Dalton.
Hamilton & District Labour Council President Anthony Marco told delegates that fifty union locals had already committed to participating in future anti-racism and anti-oppression activities in the Hamilton area through the Shut Down Hate initiative. He said that they were also approaching local organizations and businesses to sign the pledge.
“As union members, we would never accept racism or oppression in our workplaces, and we should not accept it in our community,” said Marco.
“The appetite for anti-racism and anti-oppression training was greater than we expected. I encourage unions to offer training opportunities and for members to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Hashim.
“Coalition building is so important. If we’re not working in unison, we’re working against each other. It has to be all of us or none of us,” said Alideeb.