Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
While labour organizing has been at the core of improved working conditions and contributed to a model for community action, many workers, particularly racialized ones, continue to toil in precarious employment. How can we expand labour advocacy in Montreal to better encompass those who have been left out of its gains? This public conversation considers the ways in which labour advocacy needs to be more inclusive if it seeks to confront ongoing injustices in the labour landscape, especially those facing migrant and other racialized workers. To what extent has a failure to account for cultural and other barriers effectively shut some workers out of coordinated efforts to improve working conditions? How does racial identity play into union culture, and how can we rise above a limited perspective to advocate for all workers?
Frantz Délice has worked with marginalized individuals over the past 25 years. He is originally from Haiti and grew up in the Saint-Michel neighborhood in Montreal. He is an active representative of his diaspora in Canada, as part of a coalition that advocates for the rights of the Haitian diaspora. He is the Director of IDENH and a deputy for North American diaspora. He holds a multi-disciplinary diploma from Université Laval.
Marc-Édouard Joubert immigrated to Montreal in 1966 and at a young age, was faced with the weight which ‘differences’ sometimes engender. He was hired by Canada Post where he benefited from the example of many representatives with experience in labour organizing. He was elected by wide acclaim to the presidency of the Conseil régional FTQ Montréal métropolitain in 2016 and 2019. His many union responsibilities have taught him that rights advocacy should never cast aside the needs and concerns of the most vulnerable, or minority members in a labour union. He is particularly interested in the forms of engagement which individuals hold towards each other and how power differentials affect us.
Remy Paulin Twahirwa is a researcher and community organiser living and working in Tiohtiá:ke. He is involved with anti-racist movements and contributes to decolonization and migrant justice struggle, most notably with the committee against incarceration at Solidarité sans frontière/Solidarity across border/Solidaridad sin frontera He is the founder of the Montreal Radical Reading Group. Since 2019, he has been on the Board of Directors of the solidarity group Alternatives.
This conversation is co-organized with Librairie Racines 2.0