IBT Women's News

Note: Here is a story that appeared in the April issue of ‘Women's News’ published by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters…
This year, Teamsters Canada and the Canadian women’s caucuses will again raise money and participate in the CIBC Run for the Cure. In October, the Teamsters Quebec Women’s Caucus raised $14,000 and the Teamsters Ontario Women’s Caucus raised $8,500 to support breast cancer research, education and awareness. Teamster local union officers, staff and members also took part in the race, which raised $33 million nationwide to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  

While the Run for the Cure is one of their annual activities, the Teamsters Quebec Women’s Caucus takes part in a number of important projects throughout the year.

“We are still raising money for the shelter in Montreal for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence,” said Brigitte Sottile, Director of Education for Teamsters Canada and President of the Teamsters Quebec Women’s Caucus. “Each year the money we raise goes to a different project at the shelter, like help for the kids, more therapists or companions to go with the women to court when they testify against their ex-husbands.”
Each year the Teamsters Quebec Women’s Caucus raises about $10,000 for the shelter and they plan to have a fundraising event this April.

The Teamsters Ontario Women’s Caucus also helps support a shelter for victims of domestic violence. At Christmas time, the group “adopted” families at a shelter in Milton, Ontario. The wish list of items ranged from necessities for the mother to toys for the children.

“We adopted one mother with two children, but the response from our board members and membership was so amazing that we had enough to donate to another family,” said Lavinia de Mello, Director of Communications for the Teamsters Ontario Women’s Caucus. “This is about women helping women and we intend to continue our support of the shelter.”

Political Change

Canadian Teamsters are also involved politically and recently had a major impact on the nation’s laws.

A bill was recently introduced in the Canadian Parliament that would have abolished the national long-gun registry requirement. Women’s organizations and Teamsters throughout Canada, including the Teamsters Quebec and Ontario Women’s Caucuses, lobbied, signed a petition, sent letters to their Members of Parliament and put pressure on politicians to maintain the registry. The registry was created in response to the killing of 14 women at the University of Montreal’s L’école Polytechnique in 1989, Canada’s worst mass shooting. By a tight final vote of 153-151, the registry was maintained.

The Teamsters Quebec Women’s Caucus is now supporting a petition aimed at improving the sick benefits paid by Employment Insurance (EI) to individuals struck by a serious illness. The petition is aimed at increasing the duration of EI sick benefits beyond the current 15 weeks.  

This major initiative was launched by Marie-Hélène Dubé, a young mother battling cancer for the third time in five years. Finding herself with no source of income during her convalescence, Dubé decided to fight to change the situation.

“Our union is committed to supporting this extremely important cause because more and more Canadians are touched by grave illnesses like cancer,” Sottile said. “We must join forces to send a clear message to Ottawa, and I urge Canadian Teamsters to do everything in their power to have their voices heard.”

IBT Women's News in PDF