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About 130 participants rolled up their sleeves in Kelowna this past weekend to found CUPE BCs aboriginal council and exchange views on how to give voice to aboriginal members across British Columbia.

Your theme Breaking the Barriers speaks to one of the great challenges that all British Columbians face together, New Democratic Party leader Carole James told participants on opening night as they sat in a large circle.

That challenge is to break the sort of barriers that Gordon Campbell is using to divide BC into warring factions rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old, aboriginal and non-aboriginal. We can only move forward when we break the barriers that set British Columbians apart.

About 80 registered delegates discussed other barriers and voted on 11 priorities for the new council. These included collective agreement language that addresses cultural differences, a call for a paid holiday on National Aboriginal Day and the hiring of aboriginal staff representatives.

Passionate, is how CUPE BC president Barry ONeill described the three-day event. It was truly history-making for our union.