Inaugural Northern Ontario Council

 

A traditional Aboriginal drum ceremony officially welcomed 90 Unifor members to the inaugural Northern Ontario Council held in Thunder Bay on October 21-22.

“The challenges for members here are very different given the vast geography and history of the north,” said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi.

The new council meeting was introduced to deal with concerns specific to the region. Speaking to delegates Rizvi addressed key Northern Ontario issues including: internet access, hydro rates, underrepresentation in government, and support for truth and reconciliation for Indigenous people.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs spoke of his concern over lack of Provincial and Federal funding to develop and support Aboriginal programs, while Volker Kromm, of the Regional Food Distribution Association, outlined the need for food banks across the north.

On the final day of the conference, local Thunder Bay MP and Minister of Status of Women Patty Hajdu spoke about the importance of equity work.  “We all want a society where women and girls have the same opportunity to thrive as men and boys,” said Hajdu. “Now is the time, we all need to recommit to gender equality.”

Unifor Assistant to the National President Katha Fortier also spoke to delegates about the power of our union and the strength of solidarity. “Thunder Bay has the highest density of union organization in the country,” said Fortier. “You have the opportunity here to influence political and social change. I challenge everybody to see how we can build that higher.”