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Jeanne Corbin

Jeanne Henriette Corbin, communist activist and union organizer (born in March 1906 in Cellettes, France; died 7 May 1944 in London, Ontario). A member of the Communist Party of Canada and secretary of the Canadian Labour Defense League, she defended the rights of Canadian workers for over 15 years. She gained particular prominence for her role in the lumber workers’ strike in Rouyn, Quebec in 1933.

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Gérard Pelletier

Gérard Pelletier, journalist, labour and social activist, politician, diplomat (born at Victoriaville, Quebec 21 June 1919; died at Montreal 22 June 1997). Pelletier is well known for his reporting of Quebec’s  Asbestos Strike for Le Devoir. In English, Pelletier is often referred to as one of the "Three Wise Men" of Quebec who entered federal politics in 1965, along with labor leader Jean Marchand and law professor Pierre Trudeau, to counter the rise of Quebec separatism.

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Bob White

Robert White, OC, labour leader (born 28 April 1935 in Upper Lands, Northern Ireland; died 19 February 2017 in Kincardine, ON). Among his many achievements as a union organizer, White was the founding president of the Canadian Auto Workers union. His autobiography, Hard Bargains: My Life on the Line, was published in 1987.

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Humphrey Mitchell

Humphrey Mitchell, electrician, trade unionist, politician (b at Old Shoreham, Eng 9 Sept 1894; d at Ottawa 1 Aug 1950). After serving in the Royal Navy in WWI, Mitchell settled in Hamilton, Ontario, to work as an electrician.

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Gérard Picard

Gérard Picard, labour leader, (born at Stratford-Centre, Qué 27 May 1907, died at Montréal, 19 Jun 1980). After completing a law degree at Laval, he was a journalist for L'Événement and L'Action catholique in Québec City during the early 1930s.

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Buzz Hargrove (Profile)

The presidential suite of the downtown Toronto hotel is not looking terribly presidential. Glossy mahogany surfaces are littered with papers and empty pop cans. There is a constant flow of denim-clad people and a perpetual hum of fax machines. This is the "war room" of the Canadian Auto Workers.

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Harold Horwood

Harold Andrew Horwood, columnist, union organizer, politician, editor, novelist (b at St John's 2 Nov 1923; d at Annapolis Royal 16 April 2006). A union organizer and politician during the late 1940s and early 1950s, Horwood supported J.R.

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Helen (Ma) Armstrong

Helen (Ma) Armstrong (née Jury), labour activist, women’s rights activist (born 17 June 1875 in Toronto, Ontario; died 17 April 1947 in Los Angeles, California). Helen Armstrong was a labour activist who fought for the rights of working-class women throughout her life. She was the leader of the Winnipeg Women’s Labor League and a central figure in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. She campaigned for unions, a minimum wage and social security, and against conscription. Armstrong was arrested for her activism at least three times, including twice during the Winnipeg General Strike. Historian Esyllt Jones described Helen Armstrong as “the exception in a male-dominated labour movement.”

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Bromley Armstrong

Bromley Lloyd Armstrong, CM, OOnt, Black trade unionist, community organizer and activist (born 9 February 1926 in Kingston, Jamaica; died 17 August 2018 in Toronto, ON). Bromley Armstrong was a pivotal figure in the early anti-discrimination campaigns in Ontario that led to Canada’s first anti-discrimination laws. A self-described “blood and guts” ally of the working poor, Armstrong demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the trade union movement and the battle against disadvantage and discrimination. For more than six decades, Armstrong worked for human rights, helping to generate civic and government support for racial equality and advocating for human rights reforms in public policy.

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Stanley G. Grizzle

Stanley George Sinclair Grizzle, CM, OOnt, citizenship judge, politician, civil servant, labour union activist (born 18 November 1918 in Toronto, ON; died 12 November 2016 in Toronto, ON). Stanley Grizzle had an illustrious career as a railway porter, soldier, civil servant, citizenship judge and activist for the rights of Black Canadians.

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Sleeping Car Porters in Canada

Sleeping car porters were railway employees who attended to passengers aboard sleeping cars. Porters were responsible for passengers’ needs throughout a train trip, including carrying luggage, setting up beds, pressing clothes and shining shoes, and serving food and beverages, among other services. The vast majority of sleeping car porters were Black men and the position was one of only a few job opportunities available to Black men in Canada. While the position carried respect and prestige for Black men in their communities, the work demanded long hours for little pay. Porters could be fired suddenly and were often subjected to racist treatment. Black Canadian porters formed the first Black railway union in North America (1917) and became members of the larger Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1939. Both unions combatted racism and the many challenges that porters experienced on the job.