Black History Month Statement

Last month a number of Trade Unionists from Canada travelled to the second inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama.  While there we attended the American History Museum where we saw exhibits about the Emancipation and the March on Washington.  What struck us about the exhibits was the connection of the two events to the labour movement and that of exploited workers.

Prior to1863 Slave labour was being used in both Canada and the United States to build the countries that many people of African descent call home.  In his inauguration address, President Obama bridged the gap between Emancipation and the March on Washington while looking at events of the day.  Making it very apparent that while some things have changed, much has also remained the same.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a promise from the government of the Day to Black Folks. One hundred years later in 1963, the March on Washington, was a message to the American government about their failure to deliver on that promise.  2013, one hundred and fifty years later and we are still looking for the fulfilment of those promises.

Here in Canada, it has been a long struggle to win positive change for our community, but an important struggle and we have made some gains. However, as a community we are still grossly under-represented in the life and structures of mainstream Canada.  An integral part of the work that the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist does is to address racism, particularly anti-Black racism faced by people of African descent in the workplace.  On a daily basis right across Canada, members of our community deal with the impact of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and the historical exploitation of our labour.

We have a long history of building the Canadian labour movement and fighting for social change which goes back hundreds of years.

As trade union members, we understand that all workers and people with little economic clout, are exploited by those with financial and political power.  We can not therefore, separate the work we do on behalf of working people everywhere from the struggles of African and African descendants.

We must therefore, remind the “powers that be” of promises not yet filled and take time to celebrate all of our achievements and successes and hold them high for all to see.

So today, we celebrate the work of Black Trade Unionists in Canada, who together with our community leaders fought for changes.

We celebrate the Sleeping Car Porters;  celebrate the establishment of Human Rights Commissions across the country; celebrate the legislative changes brought about in the 1950’s and 60’s; celebrate the battles to expose environmental racism; the fight for Employment Equity; celebrate the rights of domestic and migrant workers, the rights for healthcare sector workers; we celebrate contributions of all the people of African descent who built the labour movement.  This history must include the unpaid labour during slavery, work done by agricultural labourers and domestic workers, the work of staff and elected leadership in the labour movement.

Black History Month 2013, we celebrate our history, and hold fast to the promises of the future to fulfil the dream.

A dream where exploitation, marginalization and injustice is a thing of the past and one day our Sisters and Brothers of African Descent in the Canadian Labour Movement will be judged on their character, and be treated with the dignity and respect deserving of a people who helped to build this country and this movement.

So as we celebrate Black History Month, we look forward to the hope, promise and dream realized, right here in Canada and also for our southern neighbours.

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Dear CBTU Brother and Sisters:


I am excited to announce that the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Annual Region 1 Conference will be held July 19-21, 2024, at The Doubletree Hotel, 6301 State Route 298, East Syracuse, NY. 

Continuing the celebration of the International CBTU 53rd Anniversary, our theme is also “Never Back, Always Forward: Hate Cannot Erase Us.”  The agenda will consist of education and information that will give us an opportunity to reflect on our power and influence in the labor movement and our communities in the fight for social and economic justice.


In solidarity

Sharon Lovelady-Hall, CBTU Region 1 Director

Andrea McCormack, Secretary 

Nina Manning, Treasurer

Ursula Howard, Women’s Committee Chair        

Eugene Williams, Men’s Committee Chair 

LaNette Murphy,Youth Committee Chair  

Juanita Forde, Younger Workers Committee Chair


[email protected]




May 1st, 2024 


Greetings CBTU Members: 

The Executive Board would like to have a meeting to prepare for the busy months ahead. There is so much happening quickly and it's important that we can get information to you. Please ensure you are signed up to the current Whatsapp chat. 

Please continue to follow the WhatsApp CBTU Ontario chat :


African Refugee Support


Dear CBTU Family and CBTU friends,

Enclosed are the details for the next Shared Closet event in support of the African Refugees in Canada.

The event will take place at the OPSEU Union Hall, located at 31 Wellesley Ave, Toronto, on the dates and times shown on the bulletin. Please join CBTU as we come together to assist those within our community who need our support the most. We are asking CBTU members, their families, and supporters for donations of time, finances, gently used clothing, toiletries, and more.

Please join CBTU and our alli Shared Closet as we actively work to improve living and working conditions within the Black community. 

Please share in your networks

In solidarity

CBTU - Canada

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