Accepting the award, Cavanagh told delegates that he has always thought of literacy as a “golden key” that allowed workers to open doors to opportunities that would otherwise remain closed to them.
He asked delegates to remember the story of the “little engine that could” and said that working on literacy gives workers the ability to shift from “thinking they can” to “knowing they can.”
Cavanagh began his efforts to promote literacy by creating a workplace literacy committee. When he was President of his District Labour council, he began a local weekly newspaper column, and hosted a local cable TV show interviewing politicians, on labour and community issues.
He was a founding member of CUPE’s Literacy Working Group and is still involved today as the National Executive Board Liaison. He is the Board Chair of Literacy Nova Scotia.
National President Paul Moist thanked Cavanagh for his tireless advocacy for literacy and workplace education, and urged delegates to continue CUPE’s strong focus on literacy.