By Joanie Cameron Pritchett

Labour Day 2015 will be remembered by many as one of the hottest days on record this summer, but for many of us, it will be known as the day in which we had the best ever turnout for the Annual Barrie Labour Day Event at Sunnidale Park.

We had a phenomenal demonstration of community on September 7, 2015 as Barrie residents, politicians, labour unions, businesses and community groups came out and enjoyed food, great music and entertainment for the day.

The event was organized by a committee of unions and community and social activists, including the Confederation of Canadian Unions, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), the Barrie and District Labour Council, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, SEIU Healthcare, York University Staff Association, as well as a number of politicians from all parties.

Part of the organizing committee this year was the Barrie Injured Workers Support Group, which fights for the rights of the tens of thousands of workers injured on the job each year across Canada.

The event featured some phenomenal live music by The Dirty Little Swing Thing, a five piece rock band that played everything from the Who to Daft Punk, from Soul to Disco, to the delight of the crowd.

“This year, we focused on bringing the community together,” says former Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU) President and event organizer, Joanie Cameron Pritchett. “We wanted to really emphasize the meaning behind Labour Day and create a true day of unity.”

M&M Meats provided the BBQ with hot dogs and hamburgers, Moonwalk brought jumpy castle and face painting for the kids, and a magician entertained parents and children alike. Fox’s Bakery supplied the bread and we had water donated to us from AquaMart and Water Depot.

“Labour Day is about bringing workers together,” says Pritchett, “regardless of what union they belong to, or even if they aren’t members of unions. We need to engage workers who don’t yet belong to a union, because their freedoms and rights on the job are just as important.”

The origins of Labour Day in Canada are traced back to April 14, 1872, when a parade was staged in Toronto to support the Typographical Union’s strike for a nine hour workday. After 24 members of the union were arrested, labour leaders called for a demonstration to take place on September 3rd of that year.

“Despite the hot weather, people really enjoyed the event,” says Pritchett. “This Labour Day in Barrie, we recommitted ourselves to working together in building a better future for all workers in Canada.”