By her nominators, she is described as a great ambassador for P.E.I. and CUPE, a wonderful leader who is “constantly spreading her love of the union” to new members and locals, and a tireless mentor to young women.
Donalda MacDonald, an activist for more than 25 years, is the recipient of this convention’s Grace Hartman award.
Created at the 1999 convention to celebrate the leadership role of CUPE national’s first woman president, the award honours activism in the struggle for workers’ rights, equality and social justice. MacDonald is CUPE P.E.I. president and on the national executive board.
“There really is no power greater than the union,” Macdonald said in accepting the award. “And it is especially true in the lives of women.”
“The union gives us the know-how, resources and the strength in numbers to make a difference,” said MacDonald, who thanked her local CUPE 1770 and P.E.I. members for their unwavering support.
MacDonald, who said she was both “ecstatic” and “humbled” to receive the award, paid tribute to Hartman’s pioneering work for women. Hartman created the first CUPE national women’s task force in 1975, international women’s year.
“That put women’s issues and rights firmly on CUPE’s agenda,” she said. “It also laid the ground for the growth and flowering of great union leaders like Julie Davis and Judy Darcy.”
Saying she was proud to work with CUPE’s second women’s task force, Macdonald stressed her commitment to work towards implementation of its “great recommendations so that real progress can be made.”
“Each and every one of us must make that commitment because change happens only when we forge ahead collectively,” she said.
In handing the award to MacDonald, CUPE National President Paul Moist told delegates of her current struggle with cancer. MacDonald was joined on the podium by her three children: Patrick, Ryan and Leanne; niece Jenia O’Connor; and sister Wendy, who has been her attendant during convention.
“Whoever came up with the words to the song ‘the union makes us strong’,” she said. “Your prayers, your cards, your concern have made me so much stronger. Solidarity forever!”
A record number of fifteen nominations were received for this year’s award – 14 women activists and one local. The award is presented each biennial CUPE national convention to a CUPE woman activist or local who:
- demonstrates through action deep commitment to social justice
- works to break barriers for women within CUPE
- shows initiative and a pioneering spirit in promoting workers’ rights
- builds activism in CUPE
- supports equity and contributes to a greater understanding of the strength of CUPE’s diversity
- and who contributes to her/their community.