Hundreds of Winnipeggers celebrated Labour Day by taking part in a community march and picnic, Monday.
Hosted by the Winnipeg Labour Council, the annual event highlights the importance of the labour movement and how unions pushed to get workers higher wages, days off and benefits.
Participants representing different unions and community groups walked from Memorial Park to Vimy Ridge Park.
Winnipeg is also home to one of the most famous strikes in Canadian history. Even though the Winnipeg General Strike happened in 1919, organizers said more work still needs to be done.
“There’s still a need for unions and the message is just as relevant as it was a hundred years ago,” explained Basia Sokal, Winnipeg Labour Council president. “We do have a long way to go before our employers recognize what workers really need in this city.”
This year unions across the country are calling for universal, single-payer prescription drug coverage for all Canadians.
“This isn’t just about union members, this is about doing the right thing for everyone in Canada,” Sokal said.
“3.5 million Canadians can’t afford to fill their prescriptions. Many are splitting their pills or skipping days to stretch their medications,” said Kevin Rebeck, Manitoba Federation of Labour president. “Nobody should be forced to choose between paying for groceries and paying for the medical they need.”
Meantime, over at The Forks, a different kind of Labour Day celebration was held.
The final Founding Nations Tribal Villages powwow of the season was held. The event featured traditional drumming, dancing, singing and storytelling.
Tribal Villages has been holding powwows at the tourist destination since June. Organizers said the powwows are open to all and help highlight indigenous history and culture.
“We have good hearts, we are loving people, we have a very strong community. We all support one another through good and bad, we’re always here and we’re together and we’re strong,” said organizer Sherry Starr.
Monday’s event featured two drummers and more than 30 dancers.
“We hold these events here because there are a lot of dancers and drummers that reside in Winnipeg and don’t have means to travel. So these events are here, so they can still come out and participate in cultural events as well.”