A century of fighting for workers' rights is explored in a display that opening today at Edmonton City Hall.
"The labour movement has been a vital player in shaping the city of Edmonton and the province of Alberta. This display will show some of the important work done by unions," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which celebrates its centennial this year.
"The AFL was created in 1912 by workers and farmers who saw the need for an organization that would protect their common interests and make their communities stronger. It's important, 100 years later, to remember the role unions played in building this city and this province – and that Alberta was at the forefront of the national struggle for workers' rights," he says.
"That struggle continues as we see moves to drive down wages under the federal government's Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, to restrict Employment Insurance (EI) payments to laid-off workers and to keep people in the workplace until the age of 67 under proposed changes to Old Age Security (OAS) rules."
The display at opens today (Friday, June 1) and runs until June 12. It includes a display of 12 separate panels, each focusing on a separate theme in Alberta labour history.
It is one of a number of displays being staged around the province in conjunction with the centennial of the AFL, which today represents 145,000 workers. The site of other displays include the Royal Alberta Museum, Fort McMurray Library, Hinton Municipal Library, the Provincial Archives, the Aviation Hall of Fame (Wetaskiwin), the Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum, the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre, the Red Deer Museum & Archives, the Olds Library, the Glenbow Institute, the Crowsnest Museum, the Galt Museum, the Medicine Hat Esplanade, the Medalta Museum in Medicine Hat (Clayworks Society) and the Bonnyville & District Museum.
The displays are part of a year-long, province-wide celebration of the AFL centennial. Juno-nominated folksinger Maria Dunn is part way through an extensive concert tour of the province, singing songs about labour and Alberta. A labour history conference is being organized by the Alberta Labour History Institute from June 13-15.
The highlight of the celebrations will be a Celebration in the Park on June 16, when thousands are expected to attend Fort Edmonton Park for a full day of events for adults and children. The day's events will also include an AFL convention.
CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888
High resolution photos from the display available for download:
Photo 1: Navvies lay railway track in southern Alberta during the First World War. Photo courtesy of the Alberta Labour History Institute.
Photo 2: A woman works at the Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Medalta History Clay District.
Photo 3: Jo-Ann Kolmes, a member of the Alberta Labour History Insitute, sets up the labour-history display running at Edmonton City Hall from June 1-12, 2012.
Photo 4: Winston Gereluk, of the Alberta Federation of Labour, sets up the labour-history display running at Edmonton City Hall from June 1-12, 2012.
Photo 5: The labour-history display at Edmonton City Hall is a big hit with visitors. The display runs June1-12, 2012.