BCGEU holds equity and human rights conference

Raising Our Voices - Building Our Power

Vancouver (15 November 2011) – Last month over 80 human rights activists, who are members of the BC Government and General Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), gathered for a two-day conference organized around the theme Raising Our Voices – Building Our Power. Almost all delegates identified with an equity group.

One of the primary purposes of the conference was to elect representatives to serve on the union’s Equity and Human Rights Committee, as mandated by a resolution passed at the June 2011 BCGEU Triennial Convention.

The resolution stated the equity and human rights committee will consist of two members from each designated equity group (aboriginal; workers of colour; gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; and workers with disabilities), who shall be elected at an equity and human rights conference.

Members elected to the committee are:

  • Co-Chairperson – Lorene Oikawa, BCGEU Vice-President
  • Co-Chairperson – to be elected by the committee members
  • Aboriginal – Gilly Alook and Cheryl Gilbert
  • Workers with Disabilities – Matt Salli and Darryl Flasch
  • GLTB – Sue Powell and Sussane Skidmore Hewlett
  • Workers of Colour – Uget Johnson Kambonaba and Fernanda Sanchez

Other highlights of the conference included keynote speakers:

  • Kent Wong, Director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he teaches labour and ethic studies: and
  • Velma Valoria a labour activist who worked with the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP) in the 1970s and with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition in the 1980s. Valoria also served 12 years as State Representative for South Seattle's 11th district.

The conference was wrapped up with members participating in a World Café/Open Space to outline the new committee’s mandate for the future.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

Issues and Campaigns