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Welalien Ache, thank you, everyone again for your love and solidarity in getting The Jailhouse Blues released, YAY! we got the album recorded pressed and distributed to women prisoners and there allies. In the Faithnet I want to share with you news about the two new jail projects I am working at for the next year , a sistering singing group and update you about camp sis.please feel free to check out the song below "Countin the Cash" in solidarity with all of us who have been through the psychiatric industrial complex- by Faith Nolan This sunny ,rainy summer and I gave thanks everyday for the sun, earth and sky, Well Summer is over. you can see my new goodtimes banjo in the pic. The album launch is finished and I am getting the songs out to media, slowly. I did a week of kids and adult choirs at Camp Naivelt this summer which was great fun and what a wow weekend of concerts with wonderful Naivelt performers where we celebrating Pete Seeger who performed at Naivelt and had the annual peace tea..As I approach sixty I am so happy to have been building decks(3) and a new porch , feeling joy and strength in the piney woods. Now I am back and forth from Toronto to the Piney woods. To start the Fall I will be two new music empowerment programs at two womens jail in Ontario. Along with songwriting, voicing and learning ukulele , guitar and banjo we will be trying out some music theatre.Thanks to ETFO and Kathleen Loftus for this ongiong support of the programs. Toyin, Pamela,Dinah, Pat A, Bo-Yi,Nadan, and Ash and I met as group over the spring and have corordinated six new volunteers women to come into one jail this fall to begin new writing, yoga, music and support programs for our sisters inside. Some women are working on getting transportation together so women and children can visit and arranging for rides for sisters who are released. One exciting Toronto Community event we will hold later this Fall will be a coat raising ( bring a coat to come to the concert , these coats will be given to women in jail ) I also begin singing workshops this fall at Sistering a safe space for women who are marginalizeds, poor, isolated on Thursdays. This summer Camp Sis was lucky enough to have our 2 spirited elder and caretaker of the land Doreen Silversmith stay at Camp sis. Doreen hosted the women who visited , camped and made gardens. Toyin and family+ friends are building a cabin they will stay in. Along with Patricia K. they are helping winterize the main house where Doreen stays, Patricia K. is also making plans to build a cabin at Camp Sis.Women have been fundraising at Camp Sis to pay the taxes and we will be holding a pay the tax event to get Camp Sis taxes together. Next summer 2015 we will once again hold the Camp Sis Retreat and Music Festival. need any info please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, peace , joy and justice, faith
The 2014 Min Sook Lee Awards
Story and Photographs by Haseena Manik
Our Time - March/April 2015
"PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND," SAYS musician, singer/songwriter and community activist Faith Nolan. "They think labour is two old white guys hammering a nail who want more money and to work less. They don’t see that those two old white guys, along with white women and brown and black and yellow women and men, are doing this labour to have the right to a life. People have a disconnect in this sense."
Born in Halifax, Nolan grew up in Regent Park, a social housing project in downtown Toronto. She has toured all over Canada, the United States, and Europe. She has helped form social justice choirs and recorded albums with, among others members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) the Service Employees lnternational Union (SEIU) and the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT).
This past year she was also one of six women recognized for their outstanding contributions to the arts and the labour movement. The ceremony took place on November 29 at the third annual Min Sook Lee Labour Arts Awards gala, hosted by the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts. I had the pleasure of speaking to all five award winners about their work as artists, and about labour and the arts, in particular.
Packed with the award winners’ friends and families, as well as members of the Toronto labour arts community, the Steelworkers Hall on Cecil Street had a warm and familial atmosphere. Dinner was provided by the East African Community Association and the evening's agenda was punctuated by music...
(check out OurTimes for the full article)
... among existing union members? Ferguson says listening to members’ concerns and maintaining transparency are essential. "In our current structure, workers who have problems or perceived problems with their union structure sometimes end up trying to decertify, or they get persuaded into a raid position. Our current structure has no transparent system that takes the concerns of union members seriously." Even when complaints originate from "puppets for management" or members simply lacking a well- developed understanding of political ideology, they should not be casually dismissed. "Unions can be a giant force for good," she stresses. ''I think it's damaging that dissenters end up at the labour board, or entertaining decertifications, or with ‘rat unions."'
Not every effort meets with long-term success. Ferguson describes one manufacturing facility that organized, but then closed, in 2014. "There are places where we are losing jobs, there's no way to get around it," she says of the changing landscape of Canadian work. Yet some communities possess a cultural climate she associates with understanding the role of unions and how they assist in hard times. The organizing coordinator says she encountered this attitude during her six months in Detroit. She says she met plenty of people who "get it" there. "Not everybody clings to the explanation that 'unions aren't doing enough” to preserve jobs, argues Ferguson.
"My own family's experience was 'lt's too bad that Dad had to go through that alone, without an orga- nization behind him’ when he was laid off, because if that was my mom, she's at a hospital and everyone's in the union, and it would be a whole different scene."
The "scene" could go further if unions reached a wider audience with their message. "I think unions are the only organizations that truly have the power to engage in widespread political education. This is severely lacking," the thoughtful activist points out. "Unions are in a unique position to educate workers and the broader public about the history of this economy. If we trained frontline stewards, staff reps and organizers about the history of our economy and the lessons of social movements, we would have much more ambitious goals, for a world without racism and poverty."
Though many Canadian manufacturing jobs have been moved overseas, to nations with abysmally low standards for wages and workers' rights, Ferguson observes an emerging trend: "There is a small niche market for high—end stuff that's being made in Canada again," such as Canada Goose parkas. Garment workers with that company, incidentally, have long been represented by Workers United Canada. "As much as some places are closing their doors, other doors are opening," she says with conviction. Ferguson could be speaking about workers in the manufacturing sector, about the labour movement, or about her own life. Her words apply to all three.
Melissa Keith is a freelance journalist and former radio broadcaster living in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.