Sept. 30 to Become a Stat Holiday in BC

UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee Pushes for Justice and Wins

For over a year now UFCW 1518 members Marylou Fonda, Christine Holowka, Anita Letendre, Raven Morningstar, and Laurie Simon have been using their union power to fight for real provincial recognition of National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.

Yesterday, BC’s provincial government recognized their advocacy for justice and announced plans to table legislation that will make Sept. 30 a paid, statutory holiday for all workers. This means that if the legislation is passed, Sept. 30 will be a paid, statutory holiday for all of our members, most of whom work in the private sector.

Indigenous communities and activists — including UFCW 1518 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit members — made this reconciliatory step happen. They had to raise their voices and share their stories, and UFCW 1518 wants to recognize them for their strength and their vulnerability. Today’s news, while good, will re-open wounds for many Indigenous Communities, reinforcing the need for a day where all Indigenous workers can take time to grieve, to be with loved ones, and to heal.

The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee led a strong, resilient and passionate campaign to make Call-To-Action 80 (of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission) a reality. They wrote to MLAs, BC’s Premiers (former and present), The Yukon’s former premier, and allies. They published a petition, which members across the province supported, and they raised awareness about the atrocities of Canada’s genocidal Residential “School” system. They’ve expanded support for Indigenous rights in their workplaces, and they’ve met with politicians to push for justice.

Today, we celebrate them as a union for their hard work, and the support and solidarity of all our members and allies, and we recommit to supporting the Committee in their efforts to re-Indigenous BC’s lands and workplaces. No one’s healing journey looks the same, and a single statutory holiday is not a salve for the wounds caused by colonization, but it is one critical step towards a more unified and fair province.

To learn more about the origins of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation read our story about Orange Shirt Day.

Want to support an Indigenous organization today? Donate to the Residential School Survivors Society.

Indigenous Committee Amplifies Sept. 30 Campaign

There’s a new Premier in BC, and UFCW 1518’s passionate Indigenous Committee members are making sure he hears them. This month they repeated the message they’ve been sending to the province for over a year: “Make National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a paid, statutory holiday for all workers.”
On Nov. 25, the committee wrote to Premier Eby, demanding action on this important reconciliatory step. The five passionate union members also wrote to 10 fellow Indigenous women who comprise the Ministers Advisory Council on Indigenous Women (MACIW). You can read both letters, below.

November 25, 2022
To the Honourable Premier Eby,
Our names are Marylou Fonda in Nak’azdli Whut’en territory (Fort St. James), Anita Letendre in Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation and Musqueam Nation territories (North Vancouver), Laurie Simon in Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation and Musqueam Nation territories (Vancouver), Raven Morningstar in the Kwanlin Dun First Nations and Taa an Kwachin Council territories (Yellowknife, Yukon) and myself, Christine Holowka, in Lheidli T’enneh territory (Prince George). Along with all our fellow members at UFCW 1518, we welcome you as our province’s new leader.
We are writing to urge you to legislate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a provincial statutory holiday. Some employers in BC, especially in the grocery sector, had record profits since the beginning of the pandemic and chose not to acknowledge this very important day.
Many Indigenous workers were unable to observe the ceremonies held by First Nations communities on September 30. If their employer scheduled them to work and would not change the schedule, they could not attend their ceremonies with their respective people or community. Nor was this day recognized with statutory holiday pay.
Our committee has been pushing the BC government to honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for over a year now, with limited response. After sending letters to MLAs and the Premier and publishing our successful petition, we received a commitment from Premier Horgan to engage in consultations with stakeholders. We appreciate this openness to dialogue, but it is not enough.
We are grieving, and will continue to grieve, as more residential schools in Canada are being searched. Yukoners and British Columbians, who are allies, are saddened by this. They offer help and want to learn more about this land’s history. A large majority of our diverse population in Canada who never knew, never realized how bad the residential school system was, are shocked and saddened. The world is watching Canada’s response and is wondering why it is taking so long for the federal and provincial governments to rightfully mandate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday.
Today, we urge and call on you to follow the Yukon and make Truth and Reconciliation Day a statutory holiday. All Indigenous people, and the beautiful diversity of cultures in this province, need the healing to start as soon as possible. We need action on the promise of healing.
This very important action of making September 30 Truth and Reconciliation Day a provincial statutory holiday will be a huge step forward in the many steps that need to be taken on the road to truth and reconciliation. Please find our petition attached.
In solidarity,
The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee:
Anita Letendre
Chris Holowka
Laurie Simons
Marylou Fonda
Raven Morningstar (Chair)

November 25, 2022

To the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women,

The Indigenous Committee of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 (UFCW 1518) writes to you today seeking support. As five proud Indigenous women and union activists, we admire your work, amplifying the voices of Canada’s First People. We would be honoured if you would extend the megaphone to our Committee, so that we can amplify the voices of the workers and allies who signed our petition, urging the province to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30) with a paid, statutory holiday.

Attached, you will find the petition, which we shared with UFCW 1518 members and the broader public. We ask that our sisters in the MACIW consider it in all of your recommendations to Minister Rankin on Truth and Reconciliation actions.

We do not need to underscore the importance of Call to Action 80 to you — the MACIW knows why Truth and Reconciliation Day is so critical to building justice on Turtle Island. Rather, we come to you as representatives of Indigenous workers, employed in grocery, healthcare, retail, cannabis, and the industrial sectors, who serve their communities every day through the private sector and the public home healthcare system.

Just as we strive for equity-seeking language in our collective agreements, our Committee is now advocating for equity-seeking labour legislation. Worker rights must comport with and advance Indigenous rights, not only because Indigenous peoples are workers, but because private-sector employers profit from our Unceded and Treaty land.

As women, this issue is even closer to our hearts because we disproportionately fill primary caregiver roles in our families and communities. Indigenous women should not be burdened with extra childcare costs or unpaid leave to accommodate legislation that only grants their school-age children the day off on September 30 but not them. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day for families to grieve and heal intergenerational wounds; this is harder to do when families cannot be together on this day because some must work.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We look forward to hearing from you.

In solidarity,

The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee:

Anita Letendre

Chris Holowka

Laurie Simons

Marylou Fonda

Raven Morningstar (Chair)

UFCW 1518 Honours Truth & Reconciliation Day

A Message from Our Indigenous Committee

To mark the one-year anniversary of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, UFCW 1518’s Indigenous Committee is repeating the same call to action we made last Sept. 30 and imploring the B.C. Government to make Sept. 30 a paid statutory holiday for all workers.

As a union operating on the traditional lands of multiple Indigenous groups, it is our collective responsibility to hold elected leaders responsible for this reconciliatory act. Thank you to the over 1,300 members who added your names to our petition to recognize Truth and Reconciliation Day with a paid statutory holiday. Thanks to you, we’ve almost hit our goal of 1,400 signatures. If you haven’t already, Sign the petition to help us get there.

Just as reconciliation is only possible if all institutions and all people on Turtle Island (what we call Canada) participate, real reconciliation can only happen if Indigenous peoples have space and time to grieve the losses they’ve endured under Canada’s genocidal doctrine.

We encourage settler members of UFCW 1518 to familiarize themselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and to wear an orange shirt in remembrance of the children who never came home from Canada’s Residential Schools. It’s a small but important and healing step towards acknowledging this country’s true history and building solidarity with Indigenous workers and neighbours.

This year, UFCW 1518 is commemorating The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with orange shirts that feature original artwork by Coast Salish artist Bear (Doug) Horne.

In solidarity,
The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee:

Anita Letendre
Christine Holowka
Laurie Simon
Marylou Fonda
Raven Morningstar, Committee Chair

Why we wear orange on Sept. 30

“They were not schools. They were weapons of genocide.”

CW: This article deals with a disturbing and violent subject that may trigger some readers.

Thousands of Indigenous children suffered violence and neglect in the Indian Residential School system, which operated in Canada for more than 100 years. The Canadian Government created these institutions to separate Indigenous children from their families, erase their culture and languages, and forcefully assimilate them into Canadian society. They were not schools. They were weapons of genocide. 

In 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that they had discovered evidence of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. While Indigenous communities knew that many children died in these “schools,” the discovery shocked many Canadians and renewed conversations about the awful impacts of settler colonialism.  

Back in 2013, Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, a residential school survivor, launched the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion. This project gave birth to Orange Shirt Day (Sept 30) which was inspired by former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s experience. Below is an excerpt from her story the Orange Shirt Society’s website:

I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!

When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.

In August of 2021, the Government of Canada established a National Holiday for Truth & Reconciliation to take place every Sept. 30. BC still does not recognize it with a statutory holiday, despite the efforts of Indigenous groups, who have spoken loud and clear: all workers, including the many Indigenous people who work for private businesses, need a paid day off on Sept. 30. 

Having the day off to remember loved ones, connect with their communities, and share their truth with others is especially important to Indigenous UFCW 1518 members. For non-Indigenous members it would be a day to reach out to First Nations bands and agencies near you and see what you can attend. You will be welcome if you come with good intentions and love in your hearts.

Want to support an Indigenous organization today? Donate to the Residential School Survivors Society.

2022 BC Municipal Elections – Labour Votes


Here’s who your Labour Councils endorse

Your democratic muscle is strongest at the local level, so don’t waste this opportunity to flex. Oct. 15, 2022 is voting day in BC. If you’re 18 plus, be sure to hit the polls, have your say, and cast a ballot for the the municipal politicians that you support.

Municipalities have jurisdiction over several issues that matter most to working people, including housing, local parks, waterways, roads and parking, libraries and more. If you don’t know about the candidates who are running in your area and their stance on these issues, UFCW 1518 recommends you do some research.

We’re big advocates of informed voting. We know our members are passionate and have opinions, and General Municipal Elections 2022 is an awesome way for you to fight for fairness.

BC’s District Labour Councils –advocacy groups that bring together union members who work in the same regions – have done their research. And with the input of local representatives from a variety of industries and unions in your communities, they’ve made their endorsements for this election. Here is a list, copied from the Canadian Labour Congress’ website, of the candidates that the Labour Councils in your areas support:


Jas Anand

Kelly Chahal

School Trustee

Rupi Kanda-Rajwan

Preet Rai


Mike Hurley


Rohini Arora, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Pietro Calendino, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Antara Deb, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Sav Dhaliwal, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Alison Gu, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Joe Keithley, Burnaby Green Party

Daniel Tetrault, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

James Wang, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

School Trustee

Bill Brassington, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Peter Cech, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Larry Hayes, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Jen Mezei, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Mikelle Sasakamoose, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Kristin Schnider, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)

Gary Wong, Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA)


Larry Samsom


Gwendolyn Donaldson

Colleen Evans

Tanille Johnston

Sandra Milligan


Sandy Bojeckho

Cherryl MacLeod


Zeb King


Amber Price

Debora Soutar

School Trustee (SD 33 – Chilliwack)

Carin Bondar

Margaret Reid

Willow Reichelt

David Swankey

Teri Westerby

School Trustee

Shannon Aldinger

Michelle Waite


Adel Gamar


Matt Djonlic

Craig Hodge

Trish Mandewo

Robert Mazzarolo

Leslie Roosa

School Trustee (SD 42 – Coquitlam)

Jennifer Martin Blatherwick

Craig Woods


Bob Wells


Will Cole-Hamilton

Doug Hillian

Evan Jollicoeur

Melanie McCollum

Wendy Morin


Wayne Stetski

School Trustee (SD 8 – Cranbrook)

Trina Ayling

Bev Bellina

Irene Bischler

Chris Johns

Doug McPhee

Wendy Turner

School Trustee (SD 5 – Creston)

Cody Beebe

School Trustee (SD 37 – Delta)

B Bruce Reid, Independents Working for You

Val Windsor, Achieving for Delta


Michelle Staples


Tom Duncan


Darlene Rotchford

School Trustee

Angela Carmichael

Karin Kwan


Michie Vidal


Sadie Hunter


Dale Bass

Daphane Nelson

Katie Neustaeter

Jesse Ritcey

Taj Sandur

Bill Sarai

Randy Sunderman

School Trustee (SD 73 – Kamloops)

Cole Hickson

Heather Grieve

Jo Kang

Kathleen Karpuk


Davis Kyle

Gordon Lovegrove

Mohini Singh

Loyal Wooldridge


Jeff Virtanen


Mary Wagner, Langford Now

Keith Yacucha, Langford Now


Nathan Pachal


Paul Albrecht

Shelley Coburn

Jeff Jacobs

Mike Solyom

School Trustee (SD 35 – Langley)

Candy Ashdown


Eric Woodward, Contract with Langley


Tim Baillie, Contract with Langley

Barb Martens, Contract with Langley

Michael Pratt

School Trustee (SD 35 – Langley)

Holly Dickinson, Contract with Langley

Joel Neufeld, Contract with Langley

Suzanne Perrault

Sarb Rai, Contract with Langley

Marnie Wilson


Korleen Carreras, A Better Maple Ridge

Sunny Schiller, A Better Maple Ridge

Jenny Tan, A Better Maple Ridge

School Trustee (SD 42 – Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows)

Gabe Liosis

Elaine Yamamoto

School Trustee (SD 75 – Mission)

Jash Bains

Randy Cairns


Leonard Krog


Ken Bennett

Don Bonner

Tyler Brown

Hilary Eastmure

Ben Geselbracht

Erin Hemmens

Zeni Maartman

Ian Thorpe

School Trustee

Naomi Bailey

Tania Brzovic

Greg Keller

Mark Robinson

Tom Rokeby


Jessica Stanley


Janice Morrison


Leslie Payne

School Trustee (SD 8 – Kootenay Lake)

Julie Bremner


Patrick Johnstone, Community First New West


Ruby Campbell, Community First New West

Chinu Das, Community First New West

Tasha Henderson, Community First New West

Bereket Kebede, Community First New West

Jaimie McEvoy, Community First New West

Nadine Nakagawa, Community First New West

School Trustee (SD 40 – New Westminster)

Marc Andres, Community First New West

Dee Beattie, Community First New West

Gurveen Dhaliwal, Community First New West

Maya Russell, Community First New West

Elliott Slinn, Community First New West

Cheryl Sluis, Community First New West


Rob Douglas


Christopher Justice

Kate Marsh

Debra Toporowski


Linda Buchanan


Holly Back

Don Bell

Angela Girard

Kathy McGrenera

Jessica McIlroy

School Trustee (SD 44 – North Vancouver)

Lailani Tumaneng


Jordan Back

Harrison Johnston

Ellison Mallin


Carrie Smart


Julius Bloomfield


Isaac Gilbert


Alison Evans

School Trustee (SD 42 – Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows)

Hudson Campbell


Brad West


Darrell Grant Penner

Sarah Harbord

Nancy McCurrach

Glenn Pollock

Dean Washington

School Trustee (SD 43 – Coquitlam)

Christine Pollock

Michael Thomas


Meghan Lahti


Dustin Chelen

Amy Lubik

Haven Lurbiecki

School Trustee (SD 43 – Coquitlam)

Nancy Johnston

Lisa Park


Terri McConnanchie


Wesley Mitchell

Cori Ramsay

Susan Scott

Brian Skakun


Chrystopher Thompson


Barry Cunningham


Malcolm Brodie


Chak Au

Carol Day (RITE)

Andy Hobbs

Alexa Loo

Bill McNulty

Keefer Pelech (RCA)

Jack Trovato (RCA)

Michael Wolfe (RITE)


Dean Murdock


Zac De Vries

Basil Langevin

Mark Leiren-Young

Greg Matte

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

Colin Plant

School Trustee

Amanda Amaral

Sue Girard

Maria Hampvent


Jinny Sims, Surrey Forward


Philip Aquirre, Surrey Forward

Ramon Bandong, Surrey Forward

June Liu, Surrey Forward

Theresa Pidcock, Surrey Forward

Paramjit Singh Malhi, Surrey Forward

Jody Toor, Surrey Forward

School Trustee (SD 36 – Surrey)

Terry Allen, Surrey First Education

Balbir Gurm, Team Surrey Schools

Laurie Larsen, Surrey First Education

Maryann Pyne, Team Surrey Schools

Tony Rebelo, Team Surrey Schools

Bobbi Taylor, Team Surrey Schools


Steve Fairbairn


Sam Raven


Kennedy Stewart, Forward Together


Dulcy Anderson, Forward Together

Iona Bonamis, OneCity

Christine Boyle, OneCity

Adriane Carr, Green Party

Ian Cromwell, OneCity

Pete Fry, Green Party

Matthew Norris, OneCity

Alvin Singh, Forward Together 

Jean Swanson, COPE

Michael Wiebe, Green Party

School Trustee (SD 39 – Vancouver)

Rory Brown, OneCity

Steve Cardwell, Vision Vancouver

Kyla Epstein, OneCity

Suzie Mah, COPE

Jennifer Ready, OneCity

Krista Sigurdson, OneCity

Gavin Somers, OneCity

Rocco Trigueros, COPE

Allan Wong, Vision Vancouver

Park Board

Gwen Giesbrecht, COPE

Maira Hassan, COPE

John Irwin, Vision Vancouver

Serena Jackson, OneCity

Chris Livingstone, COPE

Kristin Rivers, OneCity

Caitlin Stockwell, OneCity


Kelly Fehr

School Trustee (SD 22 – Vernon)

Mark Olsen


Marianne Alto


Jeremy Caradonna

Matt Dell

Ben Isitt

Susan Kim

Krista Loughton

Dave Thompson


Mary-Ann Booth


Alexis Chicoine

Nora Gambioli


Darryl Walker


Stephen Crozier