Why Unions Matter to Canada

Winner name: 

Kathleen MacKillop

Award date: 

June, 2016

Contest: 

As a child, I only knew of my grandfather. My mother explained that when she was four, her family had to leave Ontario as my grandfather and a few other men had been blacklisted for trying to start a union.

My mother recalls a newspaper article with a picture of her father sitting in the back of a police wagonn.

Times were tough for her family, especially in the 1940s. While she does not remember much of the train, she knows her family relocated via railway to Vancouver.

And while I grew up I never knew our family to be politically active, other than that they were Liberals and that the Montreal Canadiens were the only hockey team that existed.

We went to school, did our homework, our chores, and when in our teens secured part-time jobs during the school year and for the summer months.

My mother was, as many mothers were, a stay-at-home mom. Their jobs were very tough, with no pay and no holidays. My father was a laborer until the time he passed away.

But while growing up, they instilled us with values, and all five of us children finished high school, obtained post-secondary education, and went on to careers. Each one of us worked in a union environment. For some of us, our children now work in union environments.

So while I never knew my grandfather, I am more than grateful that he and others fought for unions—they've made a better life for me and my children and all Canadians.

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