Over 1500 people participated in Labour Day celebrations in Prince George, BC, on the PG City Hall lawn. The event was organized by the Labour Day Organizing Committee and the North Central Labour Council, with over 30 unions, labour organizations, businesses and community groups sponsoring. The overall theme was: Labour movement – past, present, future: Fighting for the rights of all!
Activities began with a spirited march of 150 people through downtown Prince George. This was followed by speakers, food, and musical entertainment that continued for several hours.
Throughout the afternoon, the bands Cottonwood and Far From Linear played popular, folk and labour-oriented songs for the attending crowd. Various unions, businesses and community groups set up booths and tents, engaged in discussion and information sharing with those in attendance as well as handing out free hotdogs, popcorn, fruits, juices, fudge, cookies, candy and other treats.
Natalie Fletcher, chaired the proceedings on the behalf of the Labour Day Organizing Committee. She began by enthusiastically welcoming everyone and thanking all the sponsoring and supporting organizations for their contribution to the success of the march and celebration.
Victor Joseph then came forward to welcome participants to the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation. This was followed by the Khast'an Drummers, a drumming group made up of Lheidli T'enneh members and friends, who performed several traditional songs.
City of Prince George mayor, Lyn Hall, spoke next highlighting the important role labour plays in the community and specifically thanking the City's inside and outside workers for their contribution to the operations of the city.
Peter Ewart, from Stand Up for the North and May Day Organizing Committee, spoke about the importance of the labour movement fighting not just for its own rights, but also for the rights of all in our society, and that these two aims give the movement the strength and resilience of steel cable.
The president of CUPE BC, Paul Faoro, talked about how he was optimistic about the future in the province now that a new government has been elected. He also paid tribute to Janet Bigelow, the well-known and respected president of the City's inside workers, who tragically passed away recently.
The keynote speaker for the PG Labour Celebration was Aaron Ekman, Secretary Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour. He emphasized the crucial role of labour solidarity, pointing out that for the last 100 years, employers have continually tried to divide workers in the province on the basic of colour of skin, country of origin, language and sexual orientation. This continues up today with temporary foreign workers being subjected to forms of slavery and indenture that deny them fundamental rights. He concluded by pointing out that it is incumbent for the labour movement to stand in solidarity and to insure inclusion of all workers, whether they belong to a union or not, whether they are from this country or not.
The final speaker was Don Iwaskow, president of the North Central Labour Council, who thanked all those in attendance for helping make Labour Day 2017 a great success.
Once again, workers and community allies worked hard to organize this highly successful event. It has generated a lot of enthusiasm in the community and represents another important step in the building of a strong labour movement in Prince George and region, one that stands for, and fights for, the rights of everyone.