HIV/AIDS is a workplace issue, and unions play a vital role in creating safe, discrimination-free environments, as well as equal access to treatment for both workers and community members with HIV/AIDS. That was the message from the international panel of the Equality forum, held Monday night.
Guest speakers addressed how the HIV/AIDS affects different communities around the world, and how the labour movement can support the fight against the epidemic.
Ken Clement, a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation and CEO of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network addressed the overrepresentation of HIV/AIDS cases in Canada’s Aboriginal communities, and how extreme inequality in these communities exacerbates the problem.
Junéia Batista, a social worker and leader of the Union of Municipal Public Servants from São Paulo, Brazil, spoke on the importance of combatting HIV/AIDS at the international level, noting that HIV/AIDS is not just a medical problem, but a systemic problem at its worst wherever groups of people are marginalized.
David Onyalo, a research representative in the international department of the Canadian Labour Congress, spoke on the situation in Africa, and some of the steps the CLC is taking to develop workplace-based approaches to HIV/AIDS.
A preview version of the film “River of Unity” was shown. It documents the annual “Back to Batoche” canoe trip and the signing of the historic partnership agreement between CUPE and the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan.
Musical interludes were provided by Iskew, a group of Aboriginal women singers, and the Vancouver Moving Theatre.