辭多倫多及約克區勞工議會慶祝成立150周年之際，迎來了第一位黑人女主席。創造歷史的安德里亞-巴賓頓 (Andria Babbington) 也是加拿大第一位擔任地區勞工議會主席的有色人種婦女。她於6月3日宣誓就任多倫多和約克區勞工議會主席。
作為 Ojibway、Anishinaabe 和 Mississauga’s of the Credit 祖傳領土上的定居者，我了解到該領土受上加拿大條約的保護。我很感激有機會在這裡生活和工作。
我們必須努力確保工人獲得公正復原。在我們為即將到來的 2022 年省選做準備時，首先要動員我們的成員並策略性地與勞工議會聯繫起來。
Labour Council new president Andria’s Inaugural speech
As the Toronto and York Region Labor Council celebrated its 150th anniversary, it welcomed the first racialized woman president. Andrea Babington, who made history, was also Canada’s first woman of color to serve as the president of a regional labor council. On June 3rd Andria Babbington officially swore in as the new president of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. Below is her inaugural speech:
Thank you, John, and thank you, friends.
I am deeply humbled to accept this position, and to serve as President of this great Council! I look forward to working with every one of you to propel this organization forward and with it, build a strong, fighting labour movement.
I am privilege to be joining you today from land that has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples from the beginning.
As a settler on the Ancestral Traditional Territories of the Ojibway, the Anishinaabe and the Mississauga’s of the Credit, I have learned that this territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. I am grateful for the opportunity to live and work here.
I must acknowledge that people of African descent and Indigenous peoples have different but parallel histories on this continent. The brutality of colonialism has bound and shaped our cultures for over 500 years.
As mentioned earlier, I also want to recognize the recent discovery of 215 Children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School which is important for most of us here today and many Council members.
These tragic deaths are a crime against humanity that is part of Canada’s long history of genocide that continues to this day. We mourn this tragic loss and extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the Children.
I thank all the generations of people who have taken care of this land – for thousands of years and I ask the ancestors and the elders to continue to guide and watch over us.
Friends, the road ahead of us will be a hard one. The past few years have been incredibly challenging for workers in the Toronto & York Region, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the struggles and inequality that is the daily reality for workers.
As a movement, labour cannot be ignorant of this reality. The bosses did not let a good opportunity to gouge workers pass them by, and I’m sure you all agree we are losing ground. But I know, from so many years of work with all of you, that it doesn’t mean giving up. It means there is work to be done – and much we can accomplish.
In the last 18 months, we have witnessed the dire consequences of underfunding and privatization of public services in the tragic loss of life in long-term care homes.
We have seen the workers who carried this country on their backs through this crisis hailed as “heroes,” but treated like villains.
We have seen women’s participation in the workforce drop to a 30-year low, with no signs of recovering quickly.
And, we have seen the pandemic expose what many have long known: that economic inequality and systemic racism are not just problems our neighbours south of the border live with. It is a painful reality in northern Turtle Island, and here in our region as well.
Folx, it is time for a change!
It is time for workers’ voices to be heard and respected, for their anger to be felt, and for justice to be done.
For change to happen, and for justice and dignity to be achieved for all workers, we must be willing to engage in militant action.
We stand at the precipice of a historic crossroad, and the decisions and actions of the individuals at this meeting today will determine the lives of future generations for years to come.
Folx, I know the weight of this heavy responsibility falls on our shoulders. But we cannot be daunted by what lies ahead of us.
Our duty to our members, and to every single working person in this region, requires us to stand tall and prepare for a level of militancy and vigilance in the workplace that has not been seen for decades.
As your Council president, my priority is to develop a strategy to improve working and living conditions for all workers.
If we want to win gains in our workplaces, and we must be prepared to engage politically.
We must fight to ensure a Just Recovery for workers. And that starts by mobilizing our membership and strategically engaging the Council as we gear up for the impending 2022 provincial election.
Folx, Doug Ford and his Conservative government failed Ontarians at every turn during this crisis.
We cannot allow him and his cronies to hold on to power for even a day longer.
We must fight to ensure that workers are at the top of the ballot next summer, and health and safety regulations are no longer put on the back burner.
It is also time to start preparing for next year’s municipal election.
We know that candidates for City Council, and the Board of Education must be finalized early in the new year.
I think we can all agree that we need more labour-friendly candidates running for office in Toronto and York Region.… candidates who believe in our action program to put people before profits.
I believe we can make this vision a reality, and I have already rolled up my sleeves to start working.
We admitted have a lot of work and challenges ahead of us.
Fortunately, we can all take heart that we are not starting from scratch.
The history of great leaders, like John, and many others who have steered this Labour Council for the past 150 years have developed the muscles we will rely upon in the coming years.
Our foundation is strong, and the roots of our labour community run deep.
I can think of no better way to honour the historical struggles of those who have come before us than to pick up their mantle and continue the ongoing fight for justice for all our region!
Understandably, it’s been almost 20 years since the council has had a change in leadership. I’m not insensitive of the concerns some members may feel.
But you can rest assure – that I am committed to a seamless transition, which will enable me to effectively use the resources of this Council to deliver the best results for our membership.
In the coming weeks and months ahead, I am and will continue to listen, learn and gather feedback from members, affiliates and heads of unions. I want to hear where we collectively want to take the Council.
Then together, we can knit our growing discontent and understanding into action.
Our goals are worthy. Our planet is worth saving.
People deserve to live in peace.
And I firmly believe our children and grandchildren deserve to inherit a better world.
So, let’s win it for us all. I hope you are with me.