Gina Puntil, Mark Hancock, Charles FleuryCUPE National President Mark Hancock presented the 2019 Health and Safety Award to CUPE 474 member Gina Puntil for her activism and leadership promoting health and safety through the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre. Puntil is from Amiskwacîwâskahkin land referred to as Treaty 6 and colonially known as Edmonton.

“I’m humbled and honoured to be recognized for this award,” said Puntil.

Puntil is an artistic director and program coordinator of the award-winning Work Plays Schools program, which has reached more than 150,000 young workers through live theatre in high schools and junior high and middle schools across Alberta. She directs plays that address the “big topics” of occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation, employment standards, and human rights. She also facilitates post-performance discussions with students and teachers.

Puntil said that young workers see themselves in the plays and recognize themselves as workers with value and rights—and with the ability to use them. Her message to young workers focuses on trusting your gut and finding your allies – if something feels unsafe or unfair, you are probably right and are not the only one who feels that way.

Her foundation for a safe and healthy workplace: “Deliberate actions guided by the values of equity, diversity and inclusion generate worker engagement and behaviours of acceptance and empathy.”