On November 30, 2023, the IUOE Local 115 building in Burnaby, BC, played host to the 29th annual Labour Appreciation Night, a vibrant gathering of more than 200 people.
Attendees included members from Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley labour councils, union representatives, community leaders, and elected officials, all converging to honour and celebrate the recipients of this year’s prestigious community and leadership awards.
The atmosphere buzzed with excitement as guests indulged in a tapa-style dinner, captured memories at the photo booth, and engaged in spirited conversations and networking over drinks. Labour Appreciation Night, a special event organized by United Way British Columbia in collaboration with the Vancouver & District Labour Council, the Fraser Valley Labour Council, and the New Westminster & District Labour Council, stood as a testament to recognizing outstanding leaders within the labour movement.
Celebrating the Change Makers
Awards were presented to local labour champions who have exhibited exceptional activism and an unwavering dedication to community service.
Michael McKnight, President & CEO of United Way British Columbia, set the tone for the evening, emphasizing that these awards honour individuals who not only make a difference in their unions but also contribute significantly to making British Columbia one of the best places to live globally.
Highlighting the historic partnership between United Way BC and the labour movement, McKnight acknowledged the vital role of volunteers from the labour movement on our boards and campaign cabinets. He emphasized the unique Campaign Associate Program, initiated in the Lower Mainland, which sees organizations lending people to United Way for four months to support fundraising campaigns.
“The labour partnership is resilient because we both believe in a healthy, caring and inclusive community. We all contribute to that in a different way, but it’s a way that compliments each other and we look after people in times of need,” McKnight said.
Rachel Allan, Labour Partnerships Representative, echoed the sentiment, expressing enthusiasm for the impactful collaboration between United Way BC and the labour movement. She praised the remarkable work of labour activists across the province, emphasizing the collective effort to build a stronger community.
The evening reached its pinnacle as accolades were presented to the distinguished awardees:
Dileep Athaide received the 2023 Joe Morris Community Service Award from United Way British Columbia.
“It is with a great sense of gratitude and humility that I accept this award,” Dileep remarked.
Candace Knoll was honored with the 2023 Labour Community Service Award from The New Westminster & District Labour Council.
The Vancouver & District Labour Council presented the 2023 Syd Thompson Community Services Award to Ron Stipp.
“I do want to thank the VDLC and the United Way for this awesome, awesome recognition,” Stipp said at the podium.
Vicki Bolan received the 2023 Brian Harder Labour Leadership Award from the Fraser Valley Labour Council.
“We are the rank-and-file members of our unions, the ones who tirelessly (and sometimes thanklessly) ensure the shop floor – whether an office, factory, movie set, restaurant, or educational institution – remains a decent place to earn a decent living. We are the ones who attend Labour Council meetings, union meetings, or BC Fed conventions for years or, in my case, decades with no expectation of acknowledgement for what we do,” Bolan said.
“On behalf of all the unsung workers in all our unions, I accept this award and thank you for the recognition we so richly deserve.”
United Way BC continues to strengthen our province and support vulnerable people thanks to the support of the labour movement. Whether through volunteering at Food Hubs, organizing collection drives for campaigns like Period Promise, or making monetary donations, the labour movement’s invaluable contributions propel United Way BC towards its mission of strengthening vital connections and making a lasting impact on communities.