Vinette Forbes is a personal support worker (PSW) at Gibson Long-Term Care in Toronto. While her union involvement is still growing, she has taken part in such events as Take a Kid Fishing Day, the annual Summer BBQ and SEIU Healthcare’s Black History Month Celebration.
As a Black woman who was born in Canada, Vinette has had her share of obstacles to overcome, but she feels lucky to have grown up in free and diverse country.
“I’ve lived in Canada my whole life, so I don’t really know what it’s like to be anywhere else, but from the stories I’ve heard from my family, I feel that I’ve lived a privileged life compared to what they’ve been through.”
When Vinette talks about her family, you can tell how much they mean to her by the change in her voice. Her family is originally from Jamaica and was moved to Canada by her grandfather who wanted to give his children a better life.
While the month of March is a great time for women to talk about other women who have inspired them and mentored them, Vinette wanted to recognize her grandfather as a crucial man in her upbringing.
“Without my grandfather, I wouldn’t be who I am today. He is someone who doesn’t give up and never takes no for an answer, even to this day. He’s almost 80 years old and has cancer, so you would think he would be slowing down, but he’s still working as a cleaner, which he’s been since coming to Canada. I am often reminded how I’m just as stubborn as he is.”
Vinette’s grandfather wasn’t the only family member who had a huge impact on her. With her father not always in the picture, it was her mother and grandmother who she credits for raising her.
“Growing up, my mom worked two jobs, so it was my grandmother who I spent the most time with. We have always been so close, and we love each other very much. She kept me very grounded as a young girl and I’ve been that way ever since.”
As a way of getting more involved, Vinette is now part of SEIU Healthcare’s Women’s Committee. At 26, she’s the youngest member of the committee, which is exciting for her.
“The other women on the committee are strong, powerful and smart women, so I’m really looking forward to learning from them. A lot of these women were the voice for my generation, which inspires me to be a voice for others. I’m usually a conservative person who keeps to herself, so being part of this committee is already an achievement. I’m looking forward to being a part of something bigger and making a difference for other women.”