I’ve got a special place in my heart for Labour Day. As summer winds down, Labour Day represents, the last long weekend of the summer before your kids start the school year. If you’re a decent parent, it’s the last chance to plan anything fun with your kids to do before they embark on a busy academic journey to greatness…oh the dreams of decent parents.
As a kid, my decent parents were grateful when other people volunteered to organize fun events for their children; this way they could actually have some kid-free fun. I believe I was 12 years old when my buddy Quintin’s grandmother, who was an SEIU member, invited me to the Canadian National Exhibition. Mother slid me a $20 bill with two bus tickets and told me to pay attention and not to get lost downtown. When we arrived via TTC, I was not at the CNE but on University Avenue with these people dressed in purple. They gave us purple shirts, a McCain juice box and put wristband on my wrist. No one told me I was going to be in a parade until I inquired how much longer we had to walk to get into the CNE! “The CNE is at the end of the parade,” Quintin’s grandma replied, “less talking, more walking.”
By the time we got to the CNE, my youthful yet chubby legs were exhausted but the smell of fried foods rejuvenated my spirit. Kids love the CNE, especially chubby pre-teens like me.
As I got older, I understood the real significance of what Labour Day actually meant. As a labourer at Mount Sinai hospital, I remember having to work on Labour Day; since it was a holiday I was quite happy to accept a shift on a holiday as I would get paid extra for sacrificing my long weekend. As a young man on my grind, with tuition expenses mounting, I marched my way down University Avenue early one Labour Day morning to get to work. Passing numerous other unions preparing for the parade, I passed my own union’s medley of people. I saw my own chief steward from SEIU Healthcare who waved me over. We exchanged pleasantries, and joked that I was late… which I was. He knew I couldn’t be a part of the festivities due to the time of my shift but he handed me a purple shirt and told me “don’t forget the real meaning of why we celebrate Labour Day,” and I was off.
As a chubby teen, I never thought that one day I’d be providing positive memories for the next generation of union members and their families and friends. This year at the Toronto Labour Day, our aim is to relive some of the accomplishments of Labour Day’s history while building on the visions of the future. [See some of our pictures from last's year Toronto parade.] To show strength and unity within the labour world while being boastful in the long legacy of SEIU Healthcare. We’ve been active on social media showcasing pictures from the past, so that when you see what we’ve got in store for this year, you ‘ll be able to see how far we’ve come in celebrating a day that signifies workers’ rights and respect for blue collar workers across the province.
I’ve experienced Labour Day in many ways at various times throughout my life. Regardless of what you do on Labour Day, take a moment to celebrate its significance and be grateful that without it, we’d have less of a chance to reflect on the contribution made be many great labourers all over North America.
To find out what Labour Day events are going on in your area check out the events page here. With many great local events taking place all over the province, it’s a fun way to get some family fun in before the September routine begins. Happy Labour Day!