Celebrating 401’s Inaugural Diversity Committee Meeting

This past December 7th, several UFCW 401 members met in Edmonton to participate in the union’s first ever Diversity Committee meeting.

After warm introductions and getting to know each other a little bit, members, lead by Union Representative Sam Nuako, got down to discussing why they were there and what their vision is for this committee.

Sam’s introductory remarks helped set the tone for their future mandate. Sam talked about his dream of building a group of workers dedicated to advancing the issues of equity seeking groups and building communities. This dream, which he has had almost since the day he was hired as a 401 Union Rep, began to take shape on this night.

“In essence, we are laying down the red carpet for our Local Union to walk to the centre stage of the theatre of inclusion and equity in the labour movement here in Alberta,” he told the committee.

In his remarks, Sam also encouraged the members in attendance to each actively seek to recruit at least one or two members to join them in this important work and to let people know that all are welcome.

The inaugural meeting proved to be very insightful and many concepts were explored, including how we can effect organizational culture changes within our own union. There were discussions around creating member engagement and educational opportunities along with promoting awareness of diversity and inclusion.

Most importantly, the committee will endeavour to create a sense of belonging with members of diverse backgrounds in order to demonstrate that we are indeed one family, one community.

Also examined through an exercise everyone participated in was the fact that each of us can say that we most likely belong to a diversity group, or have at one time. Whether that involves ethnicity, religion, disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, our age, or any other number of groups we have or may belong to. The point being, though we celebrate our diversity, we also celebrate our kinship and our desire to share in, and celebrate, our diversity together.

There were also conversations about the difference between equality and equity. Equality being the equal treatment of every one and equity being the removal of barriers so all can participate in their own way and with their own unique abilities.

The committee’s mandate continues to be discovered and developed but the overarching theme will be to bring people together to create a community of interest. This mandate will be multi-faceted and will not focus on only one group or issue.

This self-directed committee, though starting small in the northern part of the province, looks forward to expanding to become a province wide committee once they get settled into their mandate and projects.

Elections for table officer positions were also conducted at this first meeting.

Please allow us to introduce you to your Northern Alberta Diversity Committee:

Chair – Charmaine St. Germain – Superstore
Co-Chair – Deb Whaley – Superstore
Secretary – Norma Johnson – Safeway

Members at large:

Danait Beshir – Safeway
Charmaine Sealy – Safeway
Debo (Adebowale) Fekoya – Gerard Raymond Centre
Daina Carpentier – Superstore
Gerald Good – Superstore
Sabahat Kazmi – Safeway
Amina Omairi – Safeway
Rosalie Roxas – Superstore
Ines Obejera – Superstore
Anna Macabitas – Safeway
Colleen Russell – Safeway
Nasra Musse – Safeway
Nadia Landry – Superstore
Nora Terry – Superstore
Glenna L’Hirondelle – Superstore
Demetrio Juanico – McKesson

If any 401 members are interested in joining this exciting new committee, please feel free to contact Sam Nuako at 1-800-252-7975. The members’ newest committee will be the place to be if you’re interested in building community and learning more about our diverse membership and province.