Windsor and District Labour Council honours activists at inaugural awards banquet
By Justin Prince
Note: This story was originally published on OurWindsor.ca.
The Windsor and District Labour Council has honoured some of its members for their activism efforts at an inaugural awards night.
The Gary L. Parent Labour Activist Awards, named after the long-time president of the WDLC, recognized nine of its current and retired union members at the Ciociaro Club last night. The banquet was created after the organization merged two other sets of awards that were for health and safety and education.
They were named after Parent because of his contributions to the labour movement in Windsor-Essex County and Canada as well as to both the WDLC and Unifor Local 444. Parent, 69, is currently also the Recording Secretary for its Retirees Chapter.
“I’m obviously humbled and honoured that they would use my name,” said Parent prior to the event. He served as president of the labour council for 27 years. “When you look at the candidates … each one of them absolutely deserves to be (getting) what they will be receiving.”
Some of people who were honoured included Unifor Local 240’s Jodi Nesbitt for her campaign work for current New Democratic Party Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, retired Unifor Local 444-member Mike Longmoore for his decades of social justice activist work for unions and Unifor Local 195’s Christine Maclin for her work in women’s activism. Parent was also honoured with a separate award in his name.
“For Gary, it’s not about the positions he held, but it’s about what he did when he held those positions. It’s about the actions he took which made a difference in people’s lives,” said Canadian Labour Congress Secretary Treasurer and guest speaker Barbara Byers during a speech while explaining the importance of union activism. “Because of everything he did, he made your community better, our country better and made our world a better place for everyone.”
Parent also explained to the hundreds in attendance that it’s important to keep participating in activism to improve the country.
“Continue your hard work. Care about that person next to you, care about your family and care about the generations that are going to come after you, because our forefathers did care about us,” said Hogan during a speech after receiving his award. “That’s why we have the Canada Pension Plan. That’s why we have our medical systems and universal healthcare in this country. It didn’t come because it was handed to us. We had to stand up and fight … I encourage everyone in this room (to do so).”
Brian Hogan, the current president of the WDLC, noted he hopes last night’s event helps create a legacy for the future.
“We want the community to know that there’s so much good work done by unionized workers, not only for their union, but for the broader community,” he said. “Perhaps this will motivate other people to get involved in (the WDLC’s) committees. They might not have time to be involved for hours and hours throughout the whole year, but perhaps there’s a niche committee that’s in their area of expertise that they will join.”