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March 2022 Newsletter
This newsletter is produced by the staff of the BC Labour Heritage Centre on behalf of our board of directors.

"The only place he could get hired was on the railway"

In the latest edition of our podcast "On the Line: Stories of BC Workers" we look back at the fascinating history of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The story is told by CUPE Local 15 President Warren Williams, whose uncle Lee Williams (shown above) spearheaded the drive to end ongoing racism on the railways. Photo: Winnipeg Free Press, May 2, 1992.
Warren Williams (above) also worked on the railway for a time. "My grandfather...was very upset when I hired on with the railway. He had dealt with a lot of racism, and he made it quite clear that's not something he wanted his grandsons to be doing."
International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Philip Randolph, presents a gift to Violet King, Calgary, Alberta.", 1954-06, (CU1140944) by De Lorme, Jack. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary. At far right is Roy Williams, another of Warren's uncles who was active in the union.
Porters were on call around the clock, making up berths, stowing luggage and doing anything the passengers wanted. If the company got a complaint, they could be fired. Photo: Women athletes leaving [by train] for Eastern Trials, 1934. Vancouver Archives, CVA-99-5032.
Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood was home to many black sleeping car porters. It was close to the train stations and social clubs that catered to the porters making stop-overs. Frank Collins was a union leader in Vancouver in the 1940s. Photo: A CPR porter with uniforms, worktable, and steam press in the Sleeping, Dining, and Parlour Car Dept. Storage warehouse, 1914, Vancouver. Vancouver Archives, CVA-152-1.235

An Inspiring Message for Today's Workers

Mine-Mill Canada was founded at a convention in 1955 at the Rossland Miners' Union Hall. Photo: USW Local 480.
A new book by BC writer and historian Ron Verzuh tells the story of Local 480 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers in Trail, BC. More than a history of the union, Smelter Wars looks at the  community of Trail and its life as a single-industry town. "Highly recommended to anyone interested in labour history, indeed, to anyone interested in BC history. "

Read Ken Novakowski's full review.
Purchase a copy of Smelter Wars.
More information on West Kootenay labour history  can be found here.

Farmworkers' Memorial 2022

Saturday, March 5, 2022 - 13:00 Virtual ceremony: To be streamed at

This annual memorial honours Amarjit Kaur Bal, Sukhvinder Kaur Punia, and Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu, the three farmworkers killed on the morning of March 7, 2007, while being transported to work in an overloaded passenger van. This ceremony also honours all farmworkers in recognition of the important work they do and their ongoing struggle for dignity and safety.
Watch full video here.
Big News!!
Donation supports french language translations of BC labour history lesson plans.
With immense gratitude to CUPE BC, whose members work in public education, we are able to professionally translate 30 of our BC labour history lesson plans into french. The project begins immediately, and responds to a need for usable teaching resource materials for the BC immersion and Francophone School Board teachers and their students.
Forty-four years of The Pacific Tribune to be digitized. From 1947-1990, the Pacific Tribune newspaper was a consistent source of reporting on every major grassroots movement for social change in British Columbia. This included regular articles on the BC Federation of Labour and its key affiliated unions and labour councils. In partnership with the Centre for Socialist Education and support from Simon Fraser University Special Collections, we have received a grant from the UBC Digitization Centre to complete the digitization of 25,000 pages of content over the next 18 months.
CUPE Local 15 Becomes Newest Sponsor of BC Labour Heritage Centre.
 CUPE Local 15 was organized over 100 years ago and has over 8,000 members working for 17 employers located in the Metro Vancouver area. Its members work in a diversity of jobs, including educational, administrative, recreational, health care, technical, cultural, and residential with the majority within the public sector.
Heat and Frost Insulators Local 118 is Latest BC Labour Heritage Centre Sustaining Supporter.
In Vancouver, Local 54 of the Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers was chartered in 1930. BC Insulators Union Local 118 of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers was established in 1954. The union has more than 400 members, employed on commercial, residential and industrial construction sites.

20 Epic Things We Did

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The BC Labour Heritage Centre office is located on the ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓ ̓qəmin̓ əm̓ and Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh speaking peoples.
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