CUPE’s Colombian union guest continues her cross-Canada tour this week in British Colombia where she will meet with young workers at several unions, tour another waste treatment plant and visit with Colombian expatriates.
Assisted by Co-Development Canada, whose workers are members of CUPE 1004, Maria Fernanda Bolanos will spend her first week in Vancouver. She will then travel to north Vancouver Is. to meet New Democratic Party member of Parliament Catherine Bell and several public sector unionists as well as members of the United Steelworkers of America.
The municipal worker from Cali, Colombia, will also tour the University of Victoria where she will meet more CUPE members before leaving for Winnipeg on Aug. 14.
Over the weekend, Bolanos visited several historical sites in New Brunswick, giving her a taste of the evolution of the two distinct cultures that co-exist in that province. Adding Spanish to the two languages already in service, called for extra perseverance by translator Anne Robichaud.
“Maria Fernanda’s country is half-way down the privatization road,” said CUPE NB president Danny Legere, who travelled with Bolanos for part of her tour. “She showed us what that road could look like and it’s not a road we want to travel down.”
“She touched leadership in this province at the federation of labour and CUPE levels,” Legere added. “Now it is up to us to use what she taught us as a tool for fighting privatization,”
On a lighter note, “she revealed a passion for stuffed animals while she was with us, buying them for children back home,” he noted. But “she also told me about one of her neighbours having to feed her children wet newspaper to fill their empty stomachs.”
“It was an education for both us and her and a memorable experience for everyone who met her,” Legere said.