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The Tranquille Occupation: 40 year anniversary - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Statement from BCGEU President Stephanie Smith


Forty years after the dramatic worker occupation of the Tranquille Institution, its impact is still as meaningful and significant as it was then. It's a story of courage and a story of collective action. 

Worker power cannot be understated: the historic 22-day occupation of Tranquille is a major piece of labour history that was made by working-class, everyday people in this province. It remains to be one of our country's most inspiring examples of workers using collective action to protect both workers' rights and the rights of those they cared for. It took tremendous courage, and as a result they successfully stood up to their employer to make collective demands to advocate for quality community care for the people they supported, for their community, and for themselves.

It's important to remember our movement's history and our roots. Honouring and acknowledging the Tranquille occupation helps us continue to build on what we've learned from past battles. Actions like this remind us of the need to connect the struggles of our members to broader struggles for social justice around disability rights, pushing back against the gutting of the public service, and expanding it to include the community health some of our most vulnerable citizens rely on.

Despite meaningful progress made in our movement in the last four decades, there is always still work to be done. The courage and solidarity of the members who occupied Tranquille is a reminder of our power when we stand together. They did what they knew was the right thing, even when it seemed like all odds were against them. They refused to give up. Let's take inspiration from their actions and bring the same determination to the fights we face today.