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On December 9 and 10, the CUPE Manitoba Human Rights Committee, the Global Justice Committee and the Education Committee jointly hosted their first mini-conference at the Union Centre. The conference offered the new equality modules from the Steward Learning Series, initiated to commemorate the Year of the Steward.

Approximately 60 stewards from 18 locals registered to participate in group discussions that focused on issues ranging from challenging racism and homophobia in the workplace, creating gender equality, connecting with Aboriginal workers, discussing disability issues for stewards and being an ally for equality.

Stewards left the conference with an understanding of what it means to be champions of human rights in their Local,” said Arlene Macklem, co-chair of the Human Rights Committee, “So their participation in this conference was vital to ensuring that awareness about global human rights issues extends to the Local level as well.”

The conference also featured a presentation by Zack Gross, Fair Trade Outreach Coordinator at the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation (MCIC). Zack spoke about how purchasing fair trade goods ensures workers making goods or growing products get a fair return for their labour and that as consumers, we can affect the rules of production and help put an end to the exploitation of workers in developing countries. In keeping with the fair trade theme, CUPE’s Global Justice Committee donated fair trade coffee to the stewards.

The Human Rights Committee selected December 9 and 10 to hold the conference because these dates coincide with a number of other days that celebrate Human Rights in Canada and around the world, such as World Aids Day (December 1), the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3), and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada (December 6).