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Message From President Stephanie Smith - BCGEU

The last several months have been indescribable in so many ways...but the last few weeks have been absolutely devastating.
Like many of you, two weeks ago my social media feeds were completely filled with the video of the senseless murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Mr. Floyd is not alone-Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, the list goes on and seems to grow by the day-but Mr. Floyd has been a flashpoint. The violence and brutality of his death was unspeakable, and the aftermath has been as hard to watch as it is hard to look away from.
These names and images and events are just the latest chapter in our society's generations-long struggle with racism and white supremacy. To win that struggle, we need to start by understanding and accepting that racism and white supremacy are deeply rooted in our communities and our institutions and that those of us who are white have a moral obligation to be part of the work of rooting them out.
To me, that means embracing the work, the hard work, of anti-racism. For white people, like me and many of you, that work includes listening to and supporting our IBPoC (Indigenous, Black and People of Colour) friends and comrades when they share their lived experience; it includes looking for ways to transfer our privilege to those who lack it; it includes unlearning language and behaviour and assumptions that we don't remember learning in the first place; it includes confronting uncomfortable truths about the people, places and institutions that have defined our lives; it includes dismantling systems designed for oppression and building a better world.
The work of anti-racism includes all of this and much more. And that work must happen in every community and every family. I can assure you that work will happen in our union.
A few months ago, our plan had been to spend last week together at convention, debating, voting, socializing and charting our union's course for the next three years. Instead, we spent the time apart, but we must still work on a vision for our union's future and that anti-racism must be part of that vision.
Over the coming days, weeks, and months, I'll be working with your elected leaders and BCGEU staff to build anti-racism into the work of our union and I'm asking you to be part of making that happen: If you have ideas for what our union can do to be anti-racist, to see and support our IBPoC members, I want to hear from you.
Thank you for everything you do every day to make our union, and our movement stronger.
In Solidarity,