BLACK HISTORY MONTH – February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day

February 1, 2022

In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month.

Black History Month exists to remind us of all the rich contributions made within our society by people of African descent, and of their ongoing struggle for equity and social justice. This is a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse nation we know today. It is also an opportunity for all Canadians, including our younger generations, to be reminded and to learn about the experiences and contributions of Black Canadians in our society, and the vital role this community has played throughout our shared history.

From abolitionists to war heroes, to sports celebrities and inventors, we celebrate the distinguished Black Canadians who have helped to make Canada a rich multicultural land. During this month I encourage UNE members to make the effort to educate themselves about some of some of these achievements. In doing so, you will become aware of how Black culture has influenced our lifestyles today…. from the poetry and music that we listen to, the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear and to advancement made in Science and Innovations.

We can no longer choose to ignore such a rich history that has had such a profound influence on all our lives today. There are many organizations and educational resources across the country devoted to the promotion and awareness of Black Canadian history.

Sam Padayachee
National Equity Representative for Racialized Members

Useful Link: Black history organizations and educational resources

Hearing dates set for Black class action lawsuit against the federal government

December 15, 2021

The class action lawsuit against the federal government by current and former Black employees has reached another milestone with certification hearing dates set for September 21-23, 2022.

Federal court judge Jocelyne Gagné rejected the government’s earlier request for a delay. This hearing is a crucial step and will determine if the class action proceedings will continue.

The lawsuit continues to gain momentum, with 1,082 former and current Black federal public service employees seeking over $2.5 billion in damages. A large number of plaintiffs are past and present PSAC members.

PSAC is supporting this historic legal action and seeking intervener status.

If you identify as Black, Caribbean or of African descent and currently work or have worked for the federal government in the past 50 years, you are eligible to join the class action.


The lawsuit reaches back 50 years, arguing the federal government perpetuated Black employee exclusion: the systemic practice of limiting skilled Black workers from career advancement opportunities, which has led to them being disproportionally underrepresented at the highest levels of the federal public service.

According to 2020 Treasury Board statistics, Black employees are one of the largest groups of racialized workers in the federal government at 3.5 per cent, yet only comprise 1.6 per cent of those at the executive level. Black workers also tend to be clustered in lower-level administrative categories.

Show your support

Source: Hearing dates set for Black class action lawsuit against the federal government | Public Service Alliance of Canada (

Human Rights Day: The Origin of Human Rights

December 9, 2021

I have often wondered about the origin of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on December 10, 1948 in Paris, at the Palais de Chaillot, by resolution 217 (III) A. It specifies the fundamental rights of humankind. Because of the horrors of the Second World War, the international community decided to draw up an international bill of rights to affirm the values put forward in the fight against fascism and Nazism.

But as I continued my research, I found that the origins go back even further to Antiquity:

  • In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle talks about the principle of dignity and the respect that the individual should have for others.
  • In Marcus Aurelius’ Thoughts and Cicero’s Tusculana (on the notion of jus hominum, “the right of men”), taking up Plato’s words.
  • In religious texts (such as the Ten Commandments, which command the right to life, to honor, etc.).
  • In Saint Paul, in the epistle to the Corinthians, who speaks about the interior man, totally virgin, by granting him an absolute dignity.
  • In literary texts, such as the play Antigone by Sophocles, or in philosophical texts, such as those of the Stoic school of thought.

Moreover, we find writings in several regions of the world like the Edict of Milan or Edict of Constantine I in the year 313; in the 13th century with the Charter of Manden in Africa; in the 15th and 16th centuries with the great Islamic jurisconsults of the Mali Empire.

Also, through the Great Texts (13th – 17th centuries), we can go back to the Middle Ages to find the first manifestations, concrete and with real effects in practice, of the idea of human rights, gathered under the name of human rights of the first generation:

  • The Magna Carta in 1215. This text is important but was only really used from the 17th century moving forward, as an instrument against the royal absolutism of the Stuarts.
  • The Twelve Articles in 1525.
  • The Petition of Rights in 1628.
  • The Habeas Corpus Act in 1679 (foundation of criminal law).
  • The Bill of Rights in 1689. It is considered in the English-speaking world to be the basis of current human rights concepts.

The first Declaration of Human Rights (June 12, 1776) was the one of the State of Virginia, written by George Mason, who was called “The Father of the Bill of Rights”. It was included in the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776, by Thomas Jefferson, and inspired the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. A few years later, France, under the reign of Louis XVI, promulgated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen on November 3, 1789. Unfortunately, this declaration excluded women and it was not until 1948 and the intervention of Eleanor Roosevelt that the notion of gender was explicitly included in an international convention, the famous Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the UN.

Human rights are based on respect for the individual. Their fundamental principle is that a person is a moral and rational being who deserves to be treated with dignity. They are called human rights because they are universal. Human rights are the fundamental rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth to death. These fundamental rights are based on common values such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence.

In closing, I would like for this day to open up the discussion in your communities, your families, your workplaces because it is the basis for a better world and it is up to each of us to promote it by continuing to defend these rights. The UNE’s Human Rights Committee is proud of its leadership within PSAC and will continue to help members address the importance of respecting and defending those RIGHTS.

Daniel Toutant
National Vice-President for Human Rights

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

November 25, 2021

As the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women approaches, I have a few thoughts that I would like to share with you. My first thought is WHY. Why is this still happening? Why as a society is this still okay? Why would anyone think this is okay? My next thought is, It’s NOT. It’s not Okay. It is not acceptable and it is not something that can continue.

As a society we should and do expect more. We need to protect our rights as Women, as Grandmothers, Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Aunties, as Nieces. We need to make sure that everyone regardless of gender, sex, race, or beliefs are protected. This is not to be tolerated any longer. If you see something, say something. Take a stand, help out your fellow human. Be that person. We all have a right to feel safe and be part of society.

On this International Day of Violence against Women, stand with me and for all those beautiful women and say, No More. We will not sit by as women are being hurt, abused, and made to feel less than men. Sisters, Brothers, and Friends stand with me on this day in Solidarity and commit to ending the vicious cycle of violence against Women.

Let every Woman know We are Strong; WE are Resilient; We are Worthy; We are Beautiful, and we are Warriors. Reach out to the programs and the education that are in place to help stop this crime against Women. It is in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our communities. Let us all do our part to educate each other and use these resources to reach the Women who so desperately need them.

We are always stronger together and together is the way we move forward. We are the Spirit; We are the Light. We are the cycle of Life. We are bigger then and we will rise. We hope that on this day, you will all rise with us. Together as we educate, learn, pool our resources that are available to us, we will all become better Humans.

Yours in Solidarity,

Ellen Cross
UNE National Vice-President for Occupational Health and Safety

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 29, 2021

September 30, 2021, marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The day honours the children found and the Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. It should be considered the same as Remembrance Day. It is a solemn day and there should be events associated with it.

There were 140 federally run Indian Residential Schools which operated in Canada between 1831 and 1998. The last school closed only 23 years ago. Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the lasting legacy of harms caused.

The idea of having a commemorative day was one of the 94 recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. 

The move came shortly after the remains of about 215 children were discovered in late May by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

More remains have been found since then, and more searches are underway across the country. Presently more that 6,000 children have been found, although many people expect the number to be much higher.

We encourage you to learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls to action, including an organization’s responsibility to provide educational opportunities for management and staff on the history of Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of Residential Schools.

Lenora Maracle
UNE National Equity Representative for Indigenous Peoples

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: Eligibility for the new statutory holiday

August 31, 2021

In June, the federal government passed new legislation  making September 30 a national statutory holiday commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The designation of this day is in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and is meant to honour survivors, their families, and communities. It also ensures the ongoing commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools will remain a vital part of the reconciliation process.

This new designated paid holiday applies to federally regulated public and private sectors — specifically, the federal public service and employers subject to the Canada Labour Code.

PSAC’s collective agreements negotiated with the federal government include provisions for an additional designated holiday if one is proclaimed by an act of Parliament. As a result, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will become a designated paid holiday and will allow employees in the federal public service and federally regulated workplaces to observe and participate in this important day.

Employees eligible for this new statutory holiday do not need to request leave. It will be treated like any other statutory holiday. If September 30 is a non-working Saturday or Sunday, employees will be given the day immediately preceding or following the holiday.

Unfortunately, the new holiday does not apply to provincially regulated employers unless a provincial legislature makes similar amendments to provincial employment standards legislation.


UNE Multiculturalism Day – August 14

August 13, 2021

In 2011, at the Union of National Employees’ (UNE) Triennial a resolution was passed, with no challenges that allowed UNE members to observe August 14 as UNE’s Multiculturalism Day.

The intention behind this resolution was to foster a sense of pride, continued pride in UNE’s commitment to the rights of all of its members. More particularly, recognizing UNE’s contributions in the Human Rights arena, and more importantly acknowledging its very own Human Rights Committee and the work accomplished within that committee. 

Canada as a country of diverse peoples and cultures celebrates Multiculturalism Day on June 27; however, UNE has gone a step further. As a union aware of its privilege, its place and its the role in the lives of its diverse membership, UNE has allocated another day whereby its membership, through its regional and Local representatives, is reminded to encourage the celebration of diversity throughout the rank and file of its Regions’ membership.

Let us as union comrades, UNE members, commemorate August 14 as a day to herald the diversity of our membership and celebrate our achievements, especially those won under the umbrella of Human Rights. A re-commitment to this day, August 14, as UNE’s Multiculturalism Day needs to be established and encouraged; always with focus, for with all that we have accomplished is as far as we still need to go.

Hayley Millington
UNE National Equity Representative for Racially Visible People

Emancipation Day – August 1

July 29, 2021

Slavery was abolished throughout the British Colonies via an act for the abolition of slavery that was given Royal Assent on August 28, 1833 and took effect on August 1, 1834. The act abolished enslavement in most British colonies, freeing over 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, South Africa as well as Canada.

Many Commonwealth countries have acknowledged and designated this day as Emancipation Day. On August 1, 2021, for the very first time Canada will recognize this day. It comes on the heels of a unanimous vote in Parliament on March 24, 2021.

Emancipation Day is an opportunity for Canadians to learn about Canada’s role in the slave trade as well as providing the chance to acknowledge the systematic racism and discrimination that has led to multi-generational trauma affecting the lives of Black Canadians up to this present day.

Despite the fact that slavery has been abolished since 1833, it has left an endowment of systemic practices of racism and discrimination; barriers that Black Canadians encounter in their daily lives. The legacy of enslavement speaks to the fact that the work to eradicate anti-Black sentiments. It includes racist rhetoric and practices continuing almost 200 years after the end of slavery as an institution.

Oftentimes, Canadians are not always aware that the history of Black people in Canada is one that includes enslavement and that those who fought against the practice of slavery were pivotal in shaping Canada as a nation. Descendants of the African diaspora continue to add to the mosaic of Canada’s diversity through their cultures and traditions, their involvements and contributions, achievements and innovations, as well as through their leadership.

We all have a role to play in lending our voices and efforts to the dismantling of the systemic barriers faced by Black Canadians. It is important to educate and to include the history of Blacks in Canada, ensuring that this is captured in the history books, and that it is taught in schools as part of the curriculum. Change is tantamount to our minds and to our hearts as we navigate the process of healing, as communities, individuals and as a nation.

Jamaican musician Bob Nesta Marley, who was also an advocate for the rights of Black people, and spoke up against poverty and western oppression sang,

‘’Emancipate yourself from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds”.

As activists and citizens of the world, we should all be prepared to align ourselves, in allyship or leadership, in the forefront of this fight for true equality and inclusion in all aspects of life. As such, I invite our Union members and leaders alike to reflect, educate and involve yourself in the ongoing fight against anti-Black racism and discrimination.

Hayley Millington
UNE National Equity Representative for Racially Visible People

Statement by UNE National President Kevin King following the Adoption of Bill C-15 and Bill C-8

June 23, 2021

On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, two important bills received Royal Assent. Bill C-15, titled United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and Bill C-8.

The first piece of legislation “provides that the Government of Canada must take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and must prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.”

The second piece of legislation “amends the Citizenship Act to include, in the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship, a solemn promise to respect the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, in order to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94.”

We wish to acknowledge the passage of these bills as part of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s recommendations. We also acknowledge remembrance of centuries of hostilities, persecution, and attempted assimilation of Indigenous peoples in Canada through colonization.

We condemn unequivocally the resistance and angst portrayed by many Conservative federal politicians regarding the adoption of Bill C-15. These matters took too long to be addressed, but these are necessary steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and towards building a society that enhances Indigenous-government relations.

Respectfully and in Solidarity,

Kevin King
UNE National President

Pride Month

June 9, 2021

Members of the Union Family,

We have now entered Pride Month and you will be seeing many activities happening across the country.  I wanted to take a moment to celebrate this great country.  Pride in Canada starts around the end of May and happens across the country until September.  Pride means something different to each person.  For some it is a protest for change, a festival to celebrate what has been achieved, a time that we can explore and find out who we are, be our authentic selves, be with our chosen family and many more personal ways and reasons.  Those journeys and thoughts on pride are personal and varied.  I hope that in this difficult time that we all stay safe, know you are not alone and there is union family out there for you if you need us.  We are all here in solidarity for a diverse and inclusive Canada.

Here are a few sites that you can use to explore and some comments from other members of our union family:

Fierté Canada Pride     

Pride at Work Canada   

Queer Events – Queer History   

Canadian Virtual Hospice – Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Proud, Prepared, and Safe    

I love that Pride just gets bigger and brighter each year and that it celebrates every part of our diverse community and gives us all a platform to be visible and open with each other and with our many incredible allies.  That being said, there are still people who aren’t fully or fairly represented, and we need to keep pushing the envelope by ensuring we are being as inclusive as possible to enable historically marginalized queer voices to be heard, validated and celebrated too.

Andrew Shaver – UNE National Executive Vice-President (he/him)

Pride for me means members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community being healthy as their authentic selves. Locally, private online discussions are used to find doctors that are friendly to the gender diverse. This should not be necessary; we should have equal access to healthcare without fear! UNE can advocate for improved healthcare and Pharmacare for the 2SLGBTQ+ community within their workplaces and beyond. It should also include expanded mental healthcare. Current access to the healthcare needs of the 2SLGBTQ+ community is limited and includes long wait times. The Yukon recently developed a new gender-affirming healthcare policy. I would love to see this same comprehensive transgender and gender diverse health and wellness policy advocated for Canada-wide! 

Danielle Palmer – UNE Regional Representative for Human Rights, Alberta & NWT & NU

Each year, in June, the LGBTQ2+ community celebrates Pride month. We march every year, to help create awareness and support from the community we live in. We continue our fight year after year because of oppression, and the fight for equality to live our lives as our true selves. It’s also an opportunity to acknowledge that the fight for equality is not over. As long as discrimination on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other forms of discrimination exist we will continue to use our voices loud and proud.

Keith Lemoine – UNE President and Human Rights Representative, Local 10512

Pride was originally a riot, a fight for equal rights, to love who you love, to be who you truly are.  52 years later we are still hearing stories of people attacked for being their authentic self, of people being murdered for living as the gender they are instead of the gender society has assigned them, and of youth being forced from their homes and their family for not conforming.  Our fight for equality is not over.  We, as Union members, need to educate ourselves and others, so that we may all truly be equal. We all deserve respect, access to medical care, mental health resources, housing, community, and family support. Real love is just love, regardless of gender, or sexual orientation.

Janet Eileen Connor – UNE Regional Representative for Human Rights, Ottawa-Treasury Board

Yours in Solidarity,

Chris Little-Gagné (he/him)
UNE National Equity Representative for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People