By Mark Dreger
Local unions and families got together at Mission Creek Regional Park Monday to celebrate Labour Day with the Labour Day Family Picnic, organized by the North Okanagan Labour Council.
Local unions set up their tents and gave away snacks, drinks, and buttons to couples and kids enjoying the warm September weather.
“Everybody loves the picnic,” said Ron Bobowski, Treasurer of the North Okanagan Labour Council. “We’ve had various unions and other community groups talking about what they do in the community, and we’re just trying to promote good community values for the people that live in this area. We think celebrating Labour Day is a nice way to show the strength and successes of labour.”
“It’s a fabulous event that we’ve had here for the last three or four years,” said Carole Gordon, past President of the Labour Council and former Provincial NDP Candidate for the Westside-Kelowna district. “We want to bring our unions together, highlight the work that we do, and have a fun opportunity to talk about the labour that has happened since the first Labour Day almost 150 years ago.”
As the day continued, more families filled the parking lot as kids enjoyed the snacks and climbed the jungle gym inside the park.
David and his wife Julianna were at the picnic with their children to enjoy the park, the lunch, and to support their local unions, but they also look forward to passing the day relaxing and spending time with their kids.
“Last year I heard about it through work because we have two unions and they were both here,” David said, with this year being his second time attending the picnic.
“For me it’s [Labour Day] about the value of being part of a union,” Carole said, “but also as a union member it’s what we do to advocate for people that aren’t parts of unions, whether it’s a vulnerable farm worker that’s coming from overseas, a temporary foreign worker or someone who’s working minimum wage.”
Labour Day in Canada can be traced back almost 150 years to 1872 with demonstrations for worker’s rights in Toronto. Soon it was picked up by the government and they created a statutory holiday to fall on the first Monday of September.
The North Okanagan Labour Council is a chartered body of the Canadian Labour Congress. They advocate fighting for worker’s rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions as well as universal health care. They advocate for a universal pharmacare plan that provides prescription drugs to all Canadians, and for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.