Left to right: United Way Winnipeg Labour Director Evan Krosney, United Way Winnipeg President & CEO Connie Walker, United Way Winnipeg Campaign Cabinet member Bernie Wood of the Canadian Labour Congress, CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay, and Winnipeg Labour Council President Melissa Dvorak. Photo by Chris Noto, UFCW 832.
United Way Winnipeg and the Labour movement – joined in solidarity for 57 years – came together again on May 12 to honour those brothers, sisters, and friends who work toward a better life for everyone.
“What I feel today in this room is community,” Connie Walker, United Way Winnipeg President and CEO, said to the dozens of union members and leaders gathered at the Manitoba Building Trades Institute.
“You are a critical part of this united way of working in our city, and we are deeply grateful.”
Manitoba Building Trades hosted the United Way Winnipeg and Winnipeg Labour Council 2021 Labour Community Awards at its institute on McPhillips Street. Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew (Fort Rouge) was among the many distinguished guests.
Before the ceremony, visitors toured the state-of-the-art Try the Trades Exhibition Hall, where they got to experience tangible, hands-on, work-ready learning stations. The space is designed for students interested in joining the unionized trades to become bricklayers, boilermakers, millwrights, and more.
President Marc Lafond said the surroundings were a fitting location for the lunchtime event – the first in-person gathering of the two groups in more than two years.
“(MBTI) was built in honour and support for all the men and women who work in the 13 building trades here. We have a lot in common…,” he said, adding with a smile, “Our members get our hands a little more dirty.”
Guests tour the state-of-the-art, hands-on Try the Trades Exhibition Hall at the Manitoba Building Trades Institute. Photo by Stephanie Starodub, Manitoba Building Trades.
Winnipeg Labour Council President Melissa Dvorak told members the longstanding relationship between Labour and United Way Winnipeg works so well because of a shared commitment to community, solidarity, and helping people in need.
“We know that the work you do … in solidarity with United Way Winnipeg is critical,” she said.
During the celebration, leaders received Certificates of Excellence and Appreciation in recognition of their unions’ contributions to United Way Winnipeg’s campaign over the last year. Three additional activists were recognized individually for their meaningful contributions:
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832 representative Sandy Forcier was named winner of the 2021 Volunteer Service Award for his long-time commitment to United Way Winnipeg, including volunteering on the 211 Advisory Committee.
Vivienne Ho, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2348, earned the 2021 Labour Community Excellence Award for her work with the Period Power feminine hygiene products collection drive and Harvesting at a Distance program.
United Way Winnipeg Labour Director Evan Krosney speaks to the group of brothers, sisters, and friends at the United Way Winnipeg and Winnipeg Labour Council 2021 Labour Community Awards.
Finally, the 2021 Art Coulter Labour Community Service Award went to Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck, an advocate of the Labour movement for more than 30 years.
In a show of solidarity, Rebeck was nominated for the distinction by Kyle Ross, President of the Manitoba Government Employees Union.
“I’m honoured to receive the Art Coulter Award,” Rebeck commented afterward. “The Labour movement has always been about collective action for social justice. We advocate for it in the workplace, we fight and raise our voices politically, and we collaborate and advance it through United Way and United Way-supported organizations that build capacity, advocate, and raise the bar for working families.
“There are many environments where Labour has to take a combative role to have our voice heard. United Way is one venue where we can problem solve and work together with business, government and community with a shared goal and objective.”
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew (Fort Rouge) speaks with a brother at the United Way Winnipeg and Winnipeg Labour Council 2021 Labour Community Awards. Photo by Stephanie Starodub, Manitoba Building Trades.
Canadian Labour Council President Bea Bruske urged union leaders and members to show continued support for United Way Winnipeg, reminding the crowd they are contributing to stronger, more inclusive, more resilient communities.
“Your work improves lives,” she said.
Walker gratefully thanked union members and leaders for their dollars, advice, time, and talent – all of which create the foundation for giving united that ensures our entire city can be stronger together.
“Vulnerable organizations cannot serve vulnerable people,” Walker said.
“It’s our collective effort that serves them well.”
2021 Labour Community Award Winners
Labour Volunteer Service Award
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832
Labour Community Excellence Award
Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2348
Art Coulter Labour Community Service Award
President, Manitoba Federation of Labour