CAW Celebrates 25th Anniversary in Montreal, Ramps up Fight for Good Jobs in Canada and Quebec

August 25, 2010, 12:00 PM EST

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The Canadian Auto Workers union will be convening its Canada-Quebec Joint Council on August 27-29 in Montreal and will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its formation as an independent Canadian union.

The union will bring together approximately 800 delegates, staff and special guests from across Canada and Quebec for the Joint Council - a decision-making body that meets every three years.

Under the banner of "Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges, Moving Forward," the union will reflect on a dynamic 25 years and chart a direction for the future. The event will include addresses by CAW National President Ken Lewenza and Quebec Director Jean-Pierre Fortin, who will reflect on the previous and current challenges facing the labour movement in Canada and Quebec. The event will also include addresses by Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, Founding CAW President Bob White and long-time CAW President Buzz Hargrove, now both retired.

This will also include a paper and presentation entitled "Fighting for Good Jobs," which will be up for discussion and debate.

The union will also launch its new book, "Making History: A Visual Record of the CAW's First 25 Years," reflecting through photography, interviews and an essay, the legacy of the union. The book was coordinated and edited by photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo.

The union will also be presenting its Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award to Esther Munyerenkana from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has made the exceptional trip to Canada to receive the award. Esther is a nurse and social worker at the Panzi Hospital and works with women who have survived brutal sexual assaults and rape, to help rebuild their lives. Esther was recommended to the CAW by Stephen Lewis and playwright and activist Eve Ensler.

This award is given every three years by CAW to an individual or organization for exceptional achievement in the promotion of human rights.  It is named in honour of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa.  It recognizes the struggle, courage and achievement of Mandela in fighting against apartheid and in advancing human rights and social justice. 

The first recipient was Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, who remains under house arrest there by the military dictatorship. Other recipients include Stephen Lewis and Craig Keilburger.

The Joint Council agenda is as follows:

Friday, August 27

9:00 am Joint Council Convenes

Address by CAW National President Ken Lewenza

Address by Quebec Director Jean-Pierre Fortin

Presentation - "Making History: A Visual Record of the CAW's first 25 years" by Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Remarks by Founding CAW President Bob White

2:00 pm Address by Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe

4:30 pm Remarks by former CAW President Buzz Hargrove
Saturday, August 28

11:45 am CAW 25th Anniversary Song Contest Winner

1:30 pm Fighting for Good Jobs presentation

2:00 pm Presentation of Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award and Address by Esther Munyerenkana

To read the Fighting for Good Jobs discussion paper, click here.

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