"To grow, to win, and to ensure everyone has a fair shot at life – we need everybody on board," said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) president Larry Hubich as he launched Project: Community at the SFL's annual convention.
Project: Community is about building from the ground up.
The project is a progressive coalition of community groups from across Saskatchewan, combined with the strength of 100,000 SFL members from all over the province. The aim is to build capacity for positive change within our communities. With a focus on education, solidarity, and electoral engagement the project hopes to engage First Nations communities, student groups, feminists, New Canadians, and any person or group of people that wants to work together to make their voices even louder.
We are launching today an initiative that has the potential to change the way we operate as a movement," said Hubich, "we are launching a program that is long-term and sustainable. We are launching a plan built on the principles of engagement, idealism, but also hard work" he added.
In March of this year, the SFL executive council adopted the community organizing model that Project: Community is based on, and work has been ongoing ever since.
The project plans events, conferences, and discussions to share knowledge. In the past this has included Saskatchewan's first-ever youth action conference. Speakers' panels on student, Indigenous, and young worker organizing have also taken place.
The project offers sessions on issues affecting Saskatchewan people, such as (but not limited to): accessible education, privatization, retirement security, climate change, Indigenous rights, and migrant worker exploitation. Further to that, the project offers skills workshops to any progressive groups that want them. Topics for skills workshops have included: coalition building, engaging young workers, strategic messaging, principles of good design, direct action, facilitation, and forming a union.
In addition to all that, much work has been done – and will be done – in the area of electoral engagement. This comprises of on the ground engagement with people about their electoral processes, including reaching out to groups of people who are ‒ often by design ‒ sceptical of electoral politics. Importantly, all of the electoral engagement work is nonpartisan. Electing certain politicians is not a priority, but talking about certain issues is. During federal, provincial, and municipal elections the project gets into communities and talks about issues that matter to people.
We are the first federation of labour in Canada to adopt a community organizing model like this," said Hubich, "and we intend to make it the framework we use many years into the future," he added.