I’ve come to know Lana over time as our two unions merged. I came to know her even better as I took the role of Indigenous Liaison. Lana has long supported my role and the work I do on behalf of our union.
The road to reconciliation is not an obvious one, especially when you consider that Indigenous people from across Canada have often been excluded from employment, traditional employment, and certainly unionized employment. As a union, we fight for good jobs, that’s obvious. But we also have to fight to recognize that some people don’t even make it into the workplace.
There isn’t a road map for how to figure this out. There really aren’t that many examples for what we can do, as a union, to bring about justice to a community that has faced state-sanctioned violence, oppression, and assimilation for centuries.
But here is how we can try. We can put time and resources into developing certain ideas. We can offer workshops and webinars and training sessions for our members that shift our perspective from Canada to Turtle Island. We can organize and show up to events organized by local Indigenous groups. We can wear our orange shirts and order hundreds for our members. We can support Indigenous artists and musicians by paying them to create art that we can use to strengthen our struggle - together.
A union’s vision for truth and reconciliation is one that starts with respect and solidarity.
Lana’s support for reconciliation over the years has only bettered our relationships with our members and indigenous communities across the country. She is respectful and always listens. We continue to work together and she always makes me feel like anything is possible.
I trust in Lana’s leadership and together we can all continue to build a strong union together. She’s been more than an ally. She is part of ReconciliAction. Lana is part of the process of learning and working together in this challenging world. I have always felt like we grow together, we build together.
Building a house takes many people with different skills and tools. That’s just like our union. I believe Lana is the builder we need to make sure our union is in a good place for the future.
Gina Smoke, Indigenous Liaison and former member of local 816M (now 191)