Labour Fair about imagining better work conditions

Avi Lewis, Charlene Bearhead, and Min Sook Lee to keynote George Brown College’s 25th annual Labour Fair

“Imagine better.”

It’s a simple phrase, but also one that carries tremendous potential. So it’s fitting, at this precarious historical and socio-political crossroads, that it should be the theme for George Brown College’s (GBC) 25th annual Labour Fair.

The fair, which will run March 20 to 24, will feature over 75 speakers from diverse backgrounds addressing a variety of topics relevant to Canadian students, ranging from the $15 and Fairness campaign, to the fight against the Energy East Pipeline, to the ‘theatre of the oppressed’ tactic among other subjects.

“What we’re looking towards is, what does it take to imagine the world in which we want to live, versus accepting the world in which we currently do live?” said JP Hornick, coordinator of the school of labour at GBC and chief steward for OPSEU local 556.

While the issues speakers will address range far afield from just traditional labour, each “will be speaking to the ways in which we can intervene to make our world a better place, and to demonstrate the visions they have and how they work towards that,” Hornick adds.

Several of the keynote speakers who will be presenting over the course of the week include Avi Lewis, filmmaker and co-author of the Leap Manifesto, Charlene Bearhead, education lead at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, filmmaker Min Sook Lee and others.

Another common thread running between the various speakers is how activism and organizing is responding to the changing realities of labour for Canadian youth. As traditional stable work environments decline and the reality of contract labour and the so-called sharing economy becomes increasingly evident, organizers and activists of all stripes must adjust — and adjusting they are.

“Think about the Urban Workers (project) and the way in which they are taking an approach of organizing workers who are not only aren’t unionized currently but are very difficult to find and reach,” said Hornick. “(They’re) really targeting those workers to ensure they have good working conditions, but also a sense of security.”

Coming back to the fair’s theme, Hornick was hopeful for the working world GBC students will inherit and the improvements they will bring.

“Even if you’re going into a non-union job, there’s always a chance to organize and make your conditions better.”

More information on the Labour Fair can be found at on the GBC school of labour’s webpage.

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Labour Fair about imagining better work conditions