100 years later: United Way Winnipeg commemorates 1919 Winnipeg General Strike

A common cause and a rich history

On May 6, 2019, Winnipeggers gathered in United Way Winnipeg’s atrium for the official launch of “Stronger Together,” a special exhibit that marked an important milestone in our city’s history – the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

Attendees at atrium launch of 1919 Winnipeg General Strike Display at United Way Winnipeg

Standing united: attendees at atrium launch, including Labour representatives, United Way Winnipeg agency partners and staff, and members of the public.

“I’d like to take you back in time to a very different Winnipeg,” said Connie Walker, President & CEO of United Way Winnipeg at the launch. “It was not the community many of us know and love today – especially for immigrants, Indigenous workers, and workers of colour. Many of them earned no wage or a low wage, and working conditions were, by today’s standards, deplorable.”

The Winnipeg General Strike remains one of the largest and most historically significant labour actions in Canadian history. It saw Winnipeggers come together and demand their right to organize, to earn a living wage, and to make a better life for themselves and their families.

1919 Winnipeg General Strike Display at United Way Winnipeg

A timeline detailing key dates and events leading up to the Strike and its aftermath.

Many Labour representatives attended the launch. United Way Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Labour Movement share a long-standing partnership. Several social agencies grew out of the 1919 strike, as a response to the demand to help Winnipeggers in need. In 1922, The Federated Budget Board created the Community Chest of Winnipeg to unite the funding of these social agencies, and the Community Chest paved the way for United Way Winnipeg.

Today, United Way Winnipeg supports more than 100 programs and agency partners. Of the 33 original agencies that formed the Community Chest, nine of the founding partners remain, including:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg
  • CNIB
  • Canadian Red Cross
  • Jewish Child and Family Service
  • Knowles Centre
  • Marymound
  • New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families
  • Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
  • YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg

The “Stronger Together” exhibit will remain on display in United Way Winnipeg’s atrium throughout the summer. The exhibit is free to the public.

Thank you to the scholars, researchers and historians who helped us assemble this exhibit.

Gina McKay, United Way Winnipeg’s Labour Director, explains the significance of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike to students

Gina McKay, United Way Winnipeg’s Labour Director, explains the significance of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike to students from Winnipeg School Division on Conscious Kindness Day.

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