In her nine years as president of CUPE 1158 in Edmonton, Linda Joyce has always believed that a local should have a strong sense of community.
“When I got on the CUPE Alberta Division, we were all just twiddling our thumbs. We had to come up with something to get people together,” said Joyce.
Joyce, a gifted cook, decided to host a strawberry social so that members of her local could get to know each other. “But, knowing me, I can’t do anything small – I ended up cooking a banquet!”
Seven years later, that “strawberry social” has become the annual CUPE 1158 multicultural luncheon, held each spring at Capital Care Norwood, the long-term care facility where Joyce works as a nursing attendant.
“This luncheon is a time to celebrate diversity, and to work together toward having a society against discrimination,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. After a short speech, Moist presented Joyce with a CUPE poster with the words “Women Strengthen our Union”. “To me,” said Moist, “that personifies Linda Joyce.”
“It’s a pleasure for me to cook for you,” Joyce told the crowd. “But just so you know, I didn’t sleep last night!”
Judging by the spread, there would have been little time for sleep. Guests dined on a range of cuisines from Caribbean to Thai to Italian to Eastern European. With the help of two other cooks, Joyce made almost all of the food.
Luckily, the luncheon has become so popular that the employer has started providing some of the food. “Every January, they start asking about the luncheon,” said Joyce.
Indeed, the local and the employer can be very proud of the community they have created in their workplace. “I really believe the luncheon has made for better relations in this facility,” said Moist. “We don’t have any grievances,” added Joyce.
“I love it,” said Joyce. “I keep my local together and that makes me so happy.”