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Indigenous Steelworkers from across Canada to meet in Sault

National director of the 225,000-member union is expected to attend October gathering
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Marty Warren. File photo by Erika Engel/Village Media

Sept. 6 update

SooToday has received the following update from Carolina Mendoza from Tenaris media relations: "Tenaris recognizes the importance of supporting indigenous members and the company will ensure a number of employees are available to attend the event."

Original story - Sept. 1

United Steelworkers national director Marty Warren is calling Indigenous members of his union to Sault Ste. Marie for a national gathering next month.

"I am proud to put out the call for registrations for the third National Gathering for Indigenous Steelworkers, October 5-6, 2022 at the historic Machine Shop building in Sault Ste Marie," Warren told his union's 225,000 members in an emailed message on Thursday.

"This gathering will be a place for Indigenous Steelworkers to share their experiences and to contribute to our union’s ongoing strategy for advancing the rights of Indigenous workers and Indigenous communities," Warren said.

"It will also coincide with a week of activities organized by USW local unions in Sault Ste. Marie to share truth and promote reconciliation."

"First and foremost, I’m inviting Steelworkers of Indigenous ancestry, meaning First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. I am calling on local unions to help us with this important work by reaching out to and sending Indigenous members to this gathering."

The Sault Ste. Marie gathering will be open to non-Indigenous officers and stewards from local unions with Indigenous memberships, Warren said.

Warren is expected to speak during the second day of the two-day conference.

United Steelworkers Local 9548, representing more than 350 workers at Tenaris Algoma Tubes, is known for having a strong representation of Indigenous members.

At a remarkable Local 9548-organized candidates meeting during last year's federal election, Batchewana First Nation elder Don Waboose was invited to pray, but took advantage of the opportunity to bestow almost half an hour of political wisdom on the candidates, who were themselves allowed to speak just four minutes on each issue.

During last year's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Local 9548 partnered with traditional elders for a day of spiritual reflection for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on Whitefish Island.

Local 9548 president Cody Alexander said in a social media post this week that he has asked Tenaris to release members of the local's Indigenous circle from work on Oct. 5 and 6 so they can attend the gathering.

"We are waiting for Tenaris to confirm if they will support their releases," Alexander said.

"We are hopeful that Tenaris understands the importance of supporting our Indigenous members."

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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