Friday, October 12, 2007

Alberta Reds

And it ain't just our necks. Take that conservative revisionists, you know who you are. Southern Alberta was the origin of union organizing in Alberta and Western Canada at the beginning of last century laying the foundation for Western Canadian Industrial Unionism.

Alberta Labour History Institute Visits Southern Alberta Foundation of the Union Movement in Western Canada

Edmonton: A provincial labour history group, the Alberta Labour History Institute (ALHI) will be in Medicine Hat for three days this week to promote labour history as key aspect of the industrial development of the Medicine Hat area.

ALHI will be in the Medicine Hat area from Wednesday to Friday, October 10-12 to conduct Oral History interviews with labour leaders and community activists. In addition, they will participate in activities organized by the Medicine Hat Clay Industries Historical Society, including a noon luncheon for former clay industry employees at the Museum on Thursday, and a presentation to students at the Eagle Butte School in Dunmore on Friday.

The visit to South-Eastern Alberta is the first stage in a series of community visits across the province as part of a five-year project leading up to the centennial of the Alberta Federation of Labour in 2012.

Entitled ‘Project 2012’, the mission will gather stories about work and working people to ensure that labour and its long history in each area of the Province is preserved for students, academic researchers, historians and others. Videotaped interviews will be conducted with local workers, and pictures, materials, and other artifacts will be collected to add to the story.

This material will be posted on the ALHI website at which was constructed two years ago as part of Alberta’s Centenary. An education project with Aspen Foundation is being developed for integration into the Alberta Social Studies curriculum for Grades 1 to 12.

ALHI President Dave Werlin says these trips are dedicated to highlighting the profile of workers and their organizations throughout Alberta.

“This is why this volunteer labour history institute was started about 10 years ago by trade unionists, community activists, librarians, archivists and historians,” said Werlin, “We realized that someone had to take the initiative to preserve and publicize the story of Alberta’s working people, otherwise it would be lost forever - a critical but untold part of Alberta’s history.”

“People in Alberta may remember some of the strikes that took place in the Medicine Hat area years ago. What many don’t know, however, is that 100 years ago, this whole area was the hotbed of union organization in Western Canada. Really, this is where it all started.”

Medicine Hat must be of particular interest to anyone engaged in labour history because it was one of the first fully industrialized centres in this Province. Manufacturers and government policy makers seized upon the natural resources and other advantages this area had to offer for industrial development, and it was no surprise that workers’ organizations quickly followed.”

It was in Lethbridge, another Southern Alberta city, that the Alberta Federation of Labour was formed, when about 25 railway workers, meatpackers, construction tradesmen, public workers, coal miners and farmers met in 1912 to form an organization through which they could work for political and social reform. This is why ALHI decided to start its community visits in this part of the province.



Alberta Labour History Institute Web Launch

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