The SEIU-West Education Committee sponsored members to attend the 2023 Prairie School for Union Women hosted by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, and would like to share the reports they received. 

Pam Willms

I had the privilege to be one of the delegates chosen to attend Prairie School for Union Women. 

During the four days from June 12-15, I was enriched by people from many different unions who shared their stories and experiences. I made many new friends and allied during this time. Some like me were first timers. We all learned from each other as well as the speakers and even ourselves about being strong matriarchal women. 

Everyone was very welcoming and included all of us in sharing our experiences. 

The course study that I was involved in was the Path to Reconciliation. Our facilitators were Dodie Ferguson and Jaqueline Maurice who chose to do a paperless class with us all sitting in a a healing circle. 
We learned things about how far we have come in reconciliation as well as what we can do to continue to move forward in a positive manner. 

During this period, we learned about land acknowledgements and how we can improve on making ours our own as well as helping others understand the importance of having one. 
At the onset, I shared the Saskatchewan Treaty Acknowledgement that was read at the SEIU-West Conference. I thought at the time it was pretty good adn respectful to the Indigenous peoples. As the days went by and the sharing of-studies went on, I came to want our statement to say more and be more. To make it our own and capture what it is truly saying. Not just a blanket statement so we can get on with business. Not just words, feeling in those words. 
We were encouraged to journal after class. 

When reflecting on the things I have learned, I feel we can do better in our own Treaty Acknowledgement for SEIU-West making it more meaningful and more likely that those listening will hear and understand its importance as we move forward with reconciliation. 
The last entry in my journal reads as follows: To look first through the eyes and then to the soul and see and care for one another with respect for each other and the land. We are privileged to cohabit and live in harmony going forward recognizing that we as settlers are but guests on the lands of the original tenants. We must go into the future as partners to use, protect and benefit from the land given from the Creator for generations to come. 

As you can hear, this course has had a great impact on me. Let's be the change we want to see in others. 
I hope to be invited back and I encourage anyone interested in stretching yoru minda nd becoming part of that change to go to this school. You will leave a richer individual. Your spirit will thank you. 

Thank you again for this opportunity. 

Sherry Gilliard

This was hard to write, for real.  I really did learn a lot, but it wasn't so much information but in how to think. Also, being older, a lot of things that hold the younger women back do not exist in my life right now (fear of losing my job, what others think of me, etc.). On the other hand, it was wonderful to learn how younger women support and lift each other up and they were shocked when I told them back in the 80's "gasp I'm old, lol" women did not do that for each other, which of course, I'm sure was a byproduct of how men treated us so we couldn't climb any ladder corporate or otherwise.  

It really was amazing and heartwarming to see women band together for a common cause and learn from each other, not just the class moderators but our classmates as well. Hearing struggles too, the diversity was fabulous and really put into perspective what we truly need to fight for. I also feel, and I know cost is always an issue, more advertising needs to be done, especially if non-union women are allowed to attend and maybe change the name to include that somehow as I feel women who are not represented are definitely suffering more in this male dominated world.  

I would be open to attending the school again but never at the expense of a first timer or someone not in a union, the women coming behind us need this much more than I do.

Take care sisters!

Angela Mauch

Prairie School for Union Women was amazing on many levels. I have always been cocooned in a conference with health care workers and people I was familiar with. PSUW took me way out of that comfort. I met women, from many different agencies, women who were presidents of their unions, women who were teachers, women who worked in mines, underground. Women came from all over Canada, in my class alone, they were from Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and our facilitators were from British Columbia. So many conversations that were way out of the health care sector. I connected with the ladies in my class and are staying connected.

I took the Work, Women and Ability course. Britany and Sheryl were the facilitators, both down to earth, personal, funny and full of information. We all connected as a class and quite easily shared stories and experiences. We engaged about right and responsibilities, team working, myths, equality, social justice, teamwork in a social environment, gaining invaluable knowledge about 2SLTGBQIA and representing members who have disabilities.

Since the conference was held in Saskatoon, I live in Saskatoon, I went home every night. You tend to miss out on the comradare that is created at the end of the day. I felt I missed out on those late night chats and connections, since I wasn’t at hotel.

Lori and her team did an amazing job and I hope I’m able to participate next year! Thank you for the opportunity! 

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