That feeling of being together

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Individual actions for united progress

It feels quite amazing to again be able to gather at a rally, at a protest, a labour convention. It feels again like we are able to embrace the power of our togetherness as a means of standing up for goodness and fairness. At the same time, all around us are challenges—financial, political, personal. However, I’m confident we are moving forward in a way that will have a positive impact on our world.

We have seen movements with the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Nurses Association, and countless other labour groups, challenging government policies that continue to marginalize workers, especially female, Indigenous, and racialized workers. It’s this zeitgeist of activism that has me buoyed. It’s this shift in focusing on what we can do together that is so hopeful. Internationally, I’m excited by the work being done by organizations such as the Tri-National Coalition in Defense of Public Education and Education International. These organizations, of which OSSTF/FEESO is a member, are highlighting the vital role public education plays in fighting inequities and improving lives. It’s no secret that public education is a powerful tool and one that we must continue to defend.

Right now, the work of public education includes taking an active role in de-colonizing education and curricula. Similarly, labour organizations including OSSTF/FEESO are working to de-centre their own whiteness and to shape a future that embraces and amplifies diverse voices. Civil society organizations around the world are calling for a Just Recovery that places our future in the hands of the many over the pocket books of a few multi-billion dollar companies. It’s this kind of global approach to activism that gets me most excited and lets me be the most hopeful.

What it says is that we are a community that believes in one another and a community that is ready to do the hard work to support one another. We know it is community that holds us together, that helps us shape the generations to come, and that can achieve greatness, even in the face of the greatest challenges.
Politically, this means communities fighting governments like that of Doug Ford – governments hell-bent on stripping away public services, community green spaces, and social supports all in the name of supporting big-business. This kind of shortchanging of our communities and the people within them has to stop. When for-profit takes priority over communities and people, we know we have a problem.

The tragedy of a government that can run rough-shod over decades-long social and environmental protections can be fought. It can be challenged. It can be reversed. Anti-Black racism and the continued impacts of our colonial legacy can and must be fought, challenged, and reversed. The very act of uniting as a community is powerful. Utilizing our centralized resolve to do better and expect better of our governments is the way to challenge selfishness and hate.

But what can this look like for us daily? It will be different for each of us, of course. But it will have some common earmarks. It looks like listening to one another, asking tough questions, standing up to tyranny, challenging misogyny, sexism, homophobia, racism, anti-Black racism, and all other forms of oppression. It also means taking our own steps towards reconciliation and repairing relationships with the first peoples of the land on which we live.

Be it a small action like writing to your local politicians or a larger action such as joining a community organization, Labour Council, or political party, your efforts matter. These acts are our uniting power and they make us all stronger. It’s the feeling of being together, making a difference, one action at a time.

About Karen Littlewood
Karen Littlewood is OSSTF/FEESO's 67th provincial President. She was first elected to the Provincial Executive as Vice-President in 2017.

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