2021 - African Liberation and Black History Month Legacy series: Defund the Police | The Ontario Federation of Labour

2021 – African Liberation and Black History Month Legacy series: Defund the Police

The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Canada (CBTU) and the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) are celebrating African Liberation and Black History Month by launching our third annual Legacies of Labour and Community Activism poster series.

The Legacies series honours the historical achievements of African Canadians and features the ongoing contributions of activists in the Black community.

Generations of justice activists like Megan Whitfield are recognized for their unwavering commitment to end anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and racial inequality in all its forms.

The struggle to end racist policies and systemic racial injustices continues today. In 2020, the OFL affirmed its supports of Black liberation groups and their call for the defunding of police services. Specific demands for change will look different from city to city, depending on the needs of the community. There is, however, an understanding that fundamental and disruptive change is required: defund the police. 

The OFL and the CBTU are calling to end the police killings of Black and Indigenous people; to reimagine alternatives to police services, decriminalization, disarmament, and demilitarization; to redistribute overfunded police budgets towards public services in the communities; and to explore community-driven, community-led solutions to community safety and well-being.

This African Liberation and Black History Month, and every month – we must all commit to continuing our work toward Black liberation, social justice, and equality for all.

Download the 11×17 printable poster

Download the 8.5×11 printable poster

Take Action:

This year’s poster in the Legacies of Labour and Community Activism series honours Megan Whitfield.

Read Megan Whitfield’s biography below:

“Never underestimate the power of a woman. As the world is on fire we will burn, but we will rise and we will accomplish and achieve.” – Megan Whitfield

A leader, trailblazer, activist, mentor, and friend; Megan Whitfield embodied all these characteristics and much more. She was an ally to workers worldwide in the fight against oppression.

Megan began her career at Canada Post in 1998 as a postal clerk at the South-Central Letter Processing Plant, in Toronto, Ontario. It did not take her very long to become involved with the union – first as a shop steward, then as a health and safety representative, and finally as chief shop steward. In 2014, she became the first Black woman elected President of the Toronto local, the largest local in Canada. It is never easy to lead a large local, but Megan did it with tenacity, professionalism, and integrity. She was a dynamic and fearless leader at the forefront of struggles for pay equity, health and safety, full-time staffing, and respect at the workplace. 

In addition to fighting for the rights of postal workers, Megan understood the need for a strong, united, and active labour movement that would fight for all working people. She also represented the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) on the Executive Committee.

Megan was a core member of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Executive Board, Executive Committee, and the Workers of Colour Committee. At the OFL convention, she co-chaired the Convention Resolutions Committee. Megan’s strong leadership on the Workers of Colour Committee and in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists was instrumental in the work to end racial discrimination in Ontario and beyond. She was a tenacious and tireless champion in the struggle against racism, sexism, and intolerance. She was a strong advocate for greater diversity in the leadership of the labour movement. She was a long-time member and Board member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists’ Canadian Chapter and was part of the Coalition’s Regional Women’s Committee and its International Constitution Committee. She also previously sat on CUPW’s National Human Rights Committee.

An inspiring leader who demanded and won change for all Workers of Colour throughout her career, Megan worked with allies, including ACORN, in their struggle to end poverty, and supported a campaign to create a postal bank that would promote social and financial inclusion. Megan was a leader who did not shy away from the challenges of building solidarity across differences. The workers’ struggle was her struggle, and Whitfield’s leadership was instrumental in strengthening our movement. 

Born on the beautiful island of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, Megan peacefully passed away on Sunday, May 24, 2020. She was a loving daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, and dear aunt.

The void her passing has left at CUPW, and within the labour movement, will never be fully filled.

Credit: CUPW

COPE 343