President Message: Labour Day Weekend 2020

Dear 391 members,
As we head into the Labour Day long weekend, and towards the Tuesday openings of branches that have been closed or offering takeaway services, I’m encouraging us all to make some space for ourselves to rest, regroup, and recharge, in whatever way we can. I recognize that for many of us this seems like an impossible task, and to some it seems like an either unreasonable or unnecessary ask.
It is important to do it anyway.
I’m reminded regularly that we are a group of people who pride ourselves on meeting the needs of our communities, responding to the issues at hand, delivering services under extreme pressure, and generally making it all work all the time under often less than ideal conditions. I count myself as lucky to be one of this group and carry with me the same set of principles. I attempt to model and reflect the amazing resiliency and adaptability that you all continue to show during this challenging time.
It does not take away from any of those laudable qualities to also ensure that you are attending to your own mental, emotional, and physical needs. It does not lessen the good and important work that you do to say – loudly or silently – that it is hard and you need… whatever it is that you need. Please reach out to wherever your supports are this weekend. And if you are in need of supports, reach out to us and we will connect you.
I was asked at the General Meeting on Monday how I am staying sane. It’s a light question that carries a lot of weight with it. I talked about the great support I feel from you, the members, and in particular from the executive and our admin assistant. What I didn’t talk about, and want to say here, is that I also am struggling to cope with the enormity of the changes we see in the world around us. I have the fortune of being in a leadership position that lends focus to get me through the work, and I am privileged in being able to access benefits and support to assist in that, but I am not pretending that everything is fine. If I appear emotional in a meeting it is because I am emotional in the meeting. I want to be open with you that the mental toll of current circumstances is real – it doesn’t mean I’m lacking in fortitude and if you are struggling it doesn’t mean you are lacking either. What it means is we need to talk about it and find ways to support each other.
So this afternoon I’ll be in a therapy session. This evening I will be at a dance class. On the weekend I will be outside in nature. I will probably cry in the shower and eat too much ice cream on Sunday night. I may not get out of bed until late in the day on Monday because the weight of it all feels crushing. I will do all of those things knowing that it does not diminish who I am, render my voice less deserving of respect, or impact my ability to represent you.
And if I see you losing patience in a parking lot, or needing to leave a message unanswered for a day or two, or phoning your best friend at 6am to pep talk you out of bed, your value is not diminished either. Take care of yourselves and each other as always. We will face the uncertainties of this next season head on and continue to move forward, holding each other up along the way. The labour movement I want to belong to includes us all and I’m so thankful to be in it with you.
Yours in solidarity,