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Be an activist within your Local

Becoming involved within your CUPE Local as a union activist has its rewards. Knowledge of structure and motions at membership meetings is crucial. Also, there are several Union Development courses available that will assist you with understanding to become familiar with CUPE. The courses would be available through your local executive and National Education Representative. Getting involved locally in executive positions would benefit you, for example, being a Shop Steward will provide with the opportunity of assisting members. Gaining credibility and allies is a key, especially in locals with under-representation of Aboriginal members. To form an Aboriginal Council within your Local, a minimum of three members should be strived for. It doesn’t matter how large or small your Local is. The key to success is to start small, just as long as there are dedicated members who are willing to participate and allies willing to assist.

Get to know your membership

Take the time to talk to all members within your local, particularly the Aboriginal employees. Providing a listening ear for a sister or brother who needs someone to talk to on a one-on-one basis will prove beneficial. Aboriginal employees face differences and the differences may not be direct racism or discrimination - but systemic and in many cases they may not speak openly about this. Building a trusting working relationship with your co-workers is important. The members you assist may one day become your support to form an Aboriginal Council. Building strong allies is a foundation that you will require when it comes to finding the support of your Local members in the formation of a council.

Utilize CUPE Resources

There are some provinces who already have established CUPE Aboriginal councils. Make contact with these councils through your divisions. These councils will be pleased to assist you in many ways. CUPE National Office will provide contact information from other provinces. The National Aboriginal Council was formed in 2006, which is comprised of members from provinces and divisions across Canada. National Staff Representatives are knowledgeable and would be willing to assist you in the networking process.

Preparation of a CUPE Aboriginal Council

  • If you have established CUPE Aboriginal councils provincially, participate as the learning experience will expand your knowledge on common goals.
  • Perseverance and dedication are needed.
  • Speak to CUPE Aboriginal members at work during coffee breaks.
  • Plan to maximize Aboriginal participation at all levels.
  • Gain the support of your Local general membership.
  • Build an ally base and maximize their abilities.
  • The formation of a CUPE Aboriginal council within your Local can offer support to CUPE Aboriginal members.
  • Plan to hold regular Aboriginal Council meetings.
  • A well thought-out plan will promote your CUPE Local and raise the council’s profile.
  • To overcome cultural, social and economic issues among First Peoples ensure you rely on factual information.
  • Always get approval at your Local general membership meeting, ensure that you have lobbied members to attend Local meetings to get motions passed.

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