BC labor history book project launched

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LHC’s Ken Novakowski (left) and author Andy Neufeld

A coalition of labor organizations in British Columbia launched a labor history book project on October 21 that promises to “provide a broad overview of BC labour history,” according to a poster produced for the event.

The coalition consists of the Labour Heritage Centre, the BC Federation of Labour and the Morgan Centre for Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University. The three provincial organizations share the goal of having the book cover the role of the union movement and working people in building the west coast province.

LHC president Ken Novakowski praised the project’s main financial backer, the Community Savings Credit Union, which is providing $200,000 to fund the book to be published by Harbour Publishing. The CSCU has long been seen as labor’s credit union.

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PNLHA member David Yorke with historic pins

Author Andy Neufeld, a PNLHA member, told the gathering of about 50 labor and community leaders that the book would cover a wide range of events and issues and it would do so with a strong eye on diversity and gender.

Neufeld, who will be working closely with LHC research Robin Folvik, a regular at PHLHA conferences, also said there would be plenty of photographs, illustrations and innovative graphic elements to make the book readable and appealing to all audiences. It will be a fun, colorful and accurate portrayal that will highlight the many struggles of the province’s workers but would not shy away from examining its flaws, he said.

Not since the Canadian centennial year 1967 has there been such an ambitious labor history publishing project. As Neufeld pointed out, it has been almost 50 years since the BC Fed published No Power Greater by the late labor historian Paul Phillips.

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Poster commemorating the kick-off of the book project

Also present at the launch party was BC Fed president Jim Sinclair, who recently announced that he is stepping down after 15 years at the helm of the province’s biggest labour body.

The two candidates who have come forward as candidates for Sinclair’s job – BC Fed secretary-treasurer Irene Lanzinger, a former president of the BC Teachers’ Federation and Canadian Labour Congress Pacific region director Amber Hockin, a former CLC health and safety representative – were also at the launch party. The federation election occurs in November.

PNLHA member David Yorke was also on hand with his impressive collection of labor pins dating to the 19th century.

Work is to begin immediately on the new book.