Honouring Fred Upshaw

Honouring Fred UpshawThe Urban Alliance on Race Relations attended the Bromley L. Armstrong Award Dinner on Friday May 3rd, 2013. Held 2-days after the internationally commemorated May Day (May 1st known globally as Labour Day), the Bromley L. Armstrong Award “was established by the Labour Council in 2005 to celebrate the life and achievements of Bromley Armstrong, a pioneer labour and human rights activist”. (Source: tyrlc.ca).

This year’s award recipient, Fred Upshaw, is the first African-Canadian to have led a major labour union. Mr. Upshaw was president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) from 1990 to 1995.

At the dinner, Fred Upshaw and his leadership journey were celebrated. Congratulations Mr. Upshaw!

We also heard from Bromley Armstrong of the early struggles to make Canada an inclusive country for people of all diversities. We heard civil rights narratives of how Bromley Armstrong, Ruth Lor Malloy, Hugh Bennett and others ‘tested’ the Fair Accommodations Practices Act in Dresden Ontario in the 1954. In 1954, they entered a restaurants in Dresden, Ontario and the business establishments refused to serve them. At that time, the Toronto Telegram and other media outlets provided coverage of their experiences of discrimination in not receiving services and placed the spotlight on some of the discriminatory practices that existed in the service industry and other business establishments. See also Hugh Bennett’s Epic Struggle

Mr. Bromley Armstrong also spoke of his experiences as a member of a delegation that led a trip to Ottawa in the 1960s and met with the Federal Government (and Minister of Immigration) to advocate successfully a change to the restrictive immigration policies that existed at that time towards racialized peoples, which limited their entry into Canada, and into the types of jobs that they did once they arrived here.

It was a great opportunity to hear of the struggles, strategies and triumphs of these early leaders and how their successes transformed our society into a fairer and more inclusive place.

photo-1Bromley Armstrong, Ruth Lor Malloy and Fred Upshaw (seated to the left) photoGary Pieters, Bromley Armstrong, Sharon Simpson, and Nigel Barriffe IMAG0641Ruth Lor Malloy and Bromley Armstrong f_DSC1213Nigel Barriffe, Ana, Faduma Mohammed, Sharon Simpson and Gary Pieters at table sponsored by Labour and Community Services

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