The following organizations are the Social Justice Fund Nominees to be voted on at CUPE4163 SAGM October 31, 2014. As there were no Social Justice Fund nominations at the AGM, there are two SJFs to be disbursed at the SAGM. The nominator or previously determined designate must be present at the SAGM in order for the nominee to qualify for the vote.
My proposal for a charity is RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs).
RAVEN is a non-profit charitable organization that provides financial resources to assist Aboriginal Nations within Canada in lawfully forcing industrial development to be reconciled with their traditional ways of life, and in a manner that addresses global warming or other ecological sustainability challenges. RAVEN’s vision is a country that embraces the caretaker values of First Nations and their equitable access to the justice system within a thriving natural habitat.
Ryan’s Well Foundation
I would like to nominate the Ryan’s Well Foundation for the Social Justice Fund contribution.
This organization was started by a 7-year-old boy after he learned in his grade one class that people were dying due to lack of clean water. The organization is committed to delivering access to safe water and sanitation as an essential way to improve the lives of people in the developing world.
Ryan’s Well has helped build over 878 water projects and 1120 latrines bringing safe water and improved sanitation to over 823,238 people.
I am nominating this organization for two reasons:
1) Clean water is the key to development. Without it, children get sick and cannot attend school to get the education necessary to improve their lives, adults get sick and cannot work, and medical services in developing countries are unncessarily burdened treating those sick and dying of preventable diseases caused by drinking dirty water.
2) My ESL students have chosen to support this organization for our charity project this session. I always tell them that doing good things encourages others to do good things. Let’s show them that their efforts will be supported by CUPE 4163’s commitment to helping those less fortunate in our global community.
The Redfish School of Change
The Redfish School of Change is a non-profit program designed to train and inspire new leaders in movements for social justice, labour rights and environmental sustainability. Every spring the program works with 15 aspiring activist leaders from across the country and takes them through an intense six week experience to build skills and analysis. Each student enters the program with a proposed Community Action Project that is developed in concert with mentors from across the province. At the conclusion of the program students leave with both a well developed plan for their community action project and a network of advisors and connections that help make it a reality. Past projects have included food security initiatives, community mapping projects and youth empowerment programs for girls in East Vancouver.
The uniqueness of the Redfish program is also its biggest challenge. Redfish uses an immersion style expedition based program to create transformative learning experiences for its students. Each year students travel through a different bio-region (Fraser Valley, Kootenay Mountains, Salish Sea…) and meet with community leaders and first nations elders along the way. In exploring the human and natural of one region from a social justice perspective students develop a stronger sense of the politics of social change. While this expedition based model has been shown over and over again to have powerful and inspiring results it is logistically demanding. Redfish struggles each year to fundraise enough money to provide this amazing experience and a donation from CUPE 4163 would be an enormous asset for the program.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Since 2012, the Canadian federal government has undertaken a project to audit a number of Canadian charities1. While the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) was initially granted $8 million to investigate charities suspected of exceeding the allowed budget of 10% of their annual income to be spent on political activities, that funding has recently been expanded to $13.4 million over 5 years (2012-‐2017); this expansion of funding also included new reporting requirements for charities2. Research undertaken by Royal Roads graduate student Gareth Kirkby has shown a widespread ‘advocacy chill’ as a result of the audits that have already taken place, whereby the government is ‘muffling’ and/or silencing charities’ abilities to contribute to public conversation because of these audits; and further, his research (and that of others3) showed that there was a singling out of charities in four particular sectors: environmental, development/human rights, and charities receiving donations from labour unions4. A number of organizations have commented on the selective nature of the audits, and questioned the impartiality of the CRA5. What has become clear is that the government is attempting to silence its critics: the audits are frequently expensive, time- consuming, and draining for charities’ (often small) staff. I think that now would be a wonderful time to choose a charity to send a bit of financial support and a letter of support and encouragement to.
Charities frequently rely on the support of individuals and research grants for funding. I think that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), whose audit started almost exactly a year ago (Oct. 2013) due to concerns that it was exhibiting biased and one-sided education materials on its website6,would be a great recipient for the Social Justice Fund this year. It is very much part of a healthy democracy to be able to criticise currents of ideas and political ideologies while being non-partisan. Among the work the CCPA is best known for, is their annual Alternative Budget7, and they have recently launched a new campaign to highlight the growing income gap among Canadians (Growing Gap8).They also regularly undertake wide-ranging progressive work, including on such topics as the minimum wage, racism in Canada, the economics of climate change, and gender differences/discrimination in the workplace. Recently, their BC branch has released a package of educational materials for high schools looking to educate their students on climate change and social justice9—some of the most important issues that we will need to address in the coming years. So while their audit continues, I think it would be a very encouraging and heart-warming gesture to show them our continued support, and to say that we stand with them and a thriving public conversation that is central to a healthy democracy. In September I undertook a small bottle-drive fundraiser for another charity (CoDevelopment Canada) that was hit with an audit that has not yet been resolved, and they expressed immense gratitude at receiving the small funds I was able to raise, and the letter of support and encouragement.
3 Sensu http://www.lrwc.org/canada-‐the-‐shrinking-‐space-‐for-‐dissent-‐in-‐canada-‐report/
Together Against Poverty Society Employment Standards Legal Advocacy Project
TAPS Employment Standards Legal Advocacy Project provides free face-to-face advocacy representation services for non-unionised employees. TAPS Advocates are available to assist employees in resolving disputes with their employers that are captured under the BC Employment Standards Act.
Some of the areas where we provide assistance to workers: overtime pay, termination pay or notice of termination, minimum wage, employee or sub-contractor, vacation pay, unlawful deductions, stat pay, split shifts, unsafe work, uniform charges.