Celebrating Asian Heritage Month

May 1, 2023

May is Asian Heritage Month so as a Labour Council we recognize the vital role that asian people have played in the labour movement in Canada. Despite facing numerous challenges, including discrimination and racism, they have been active and vocal in fighting for better working conditions, fair wages, and the rights of all workers.

The first significant contribution of Asian workers to the labour movement in Canada can be traced back to the late 1800s when Chinese immigrants worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. They endured harsh conditions, including dangerous work environments and low pay. Their protests and strikes led to the establishment of the Chinese Labour Corps, which protected their rights and improved their working conditions.

Similarly, Japanese Canadians played an essential role in the labour movement during the early 1900s. They organized unions and went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions in industries such as logging, mining, and fishing. They also protested against discriminatory practices, such as lower wages for Asian workers and the exclusion of Asian workers from unions.

During the 1960s, South Asian workers began to participate in the labour movement. They formed unions and joined the fight for better working conditions and higher wages. They also protested against discrimination in the workplace and campaigned for the rights of migrant workers.

In recent years, Filipino workers have become increasingly active in the labour movement. They have organized unions and participated in strikes to demand better pay and working conditions, especially in the healthcare and caregiving sectors. They have also campaigned for the rights of temporary foreign workers, who often face exploitation and abuse.

Overall, the contributions of Asian workers to the labour movement in Canada cannot be overstated. They have fought for their rights and the rights of all workers, often in the face of discrimination and racism. Their efforts have led to significant improvements in working conditions and the establishment of fair labour practices in Canada.

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