“In our diversity we will build solidarity as union members.” So ends the OPSEU Statement of Respect that is read at the beginning of all union meetings. I write this acknowledging my own failure as President of OPSEU Local 417 in not saying something.  I apologize for my inaction.

The College has committed itself to addressing this issue, in particular as it relates to the value of “Belonging.”

The Local Executive Committee is encouraged by this step and I am reminded of my own responsibilities to speak for all of our members.

This year has been tough on all of us. We have all witnessed horrible violence and death that are directly related to hate and to prejudice. An Indigenous woman dying in hospital just because of her race, the horrible death of George Floyd and many others, the violence and disproportionate arrests of blacks in Canada and the recent report from OPSEU’s equity unit of the effects of COVID on the LGBTQ community. We stand with all peoples and we say loudly that Black Lives Matter.

We recognise the contributions and historic importance of Indigenous peoples must also be clearly and overtly connected to our collective commitment to make the promise and the challenge of Truth and Reconciliation real in our communities. We recognize in Cornwall the traditional territory of the Audenosaunee (Iroquois), Mohawk, Haudenosaunee (St Lawrence Iroquois) and Huron-Wendat peoples. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and in Kingston—the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee peoples. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. And in Brockville, the traditional territory of the Anishnabek, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Oneida and Haudenosaunee (St Lawrence Iroquois) peoples also covered by the Upper Canada Treaties.

Our union believes that we must accord respect to all persons. As educators we should take that responsibility seriously and ensure those values are included in what we say and do.

Our Collective agreement provides that management and union will ensure equity and “remove barriers that may exist…relative to employment equity.” We will do our part; management must do theirs.

We will support the College in its mission to achieve real diversity and inclusion and we encourage all members to speak up and have your voices heard.

If you wish to offer your voice to the executive and be involved in our own efforts to achieve diversity and inclusion on the OPSEU Local 417 executive, please reach out to any of us. We have an amazing team, but we can be better and more inclusive and more representative of those that we represent.

Respectfully, and in Solidarity

Grant Currie
President, SLC Faculty Local 417