Abdi Hagi Yusuf, with CUPW, is the 2019 recipient of the Bob Borch Human Rights Award, which was established in 2002 to recognize the OFL Executive Board member, trade union activist and champion of human rights.
“I am humbled to receive this award, which I accept on behalf of everyone in the labour movement who continue to create positive spaces for all workers to do their jobs with dignity,” said Hagi.
Abdi was, and still is, fighting for social justice, whether it is in his workplace or within the community. He volunteers countless hours in support of the equity and human rights agenda, especially now with the rise of Islamophobia, and the emboldening of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, that is becoming all too common place.
Abdi arrived in Canada in the early 90s during an ongoing recession and high rates of unemployment. Coming to a new country was hard, but what made it more difficult for many new immigrants was that they faced the racism, barriers and lack of opportunity because of their skin colour, their religion and language.
“We deserve a better country, said Hagi. “We cannot sit on the sidelines as a labour movement. We must organize with the communities that we live in today to change the future of this country. We need to challenge ourselves to do more our future generation.”
Much like Borch, Abdi works to push the equity and human rights agenda to the forefront of all labour actions and activities. He is actively involved with grassroots organizations in the Somali community, where he is currently working with groups to end youth violence and help newcomers settle into their new home.
Abdi is currently the co-chair of the Somali Workers Network, and he is well-known in the community for advocating for issues of inequality and discrimination of marginalized people. Abdi does not shy away from complex community issues. He began working at Canada Post as a temporary worker in 1991 and quickly became a Shop Steward working to protect the rights of workers. He also became an advocate for injured workers and their rights regarding work compensation representing injured workers at Canada Post. Abdi has since held many positions within CUPW and in 2004 he was elected the first Black Chief Shop Steward for what was then Canada’s largest postal facility, the Gateway East postal facility.