"Women from Northern Communities & Unions Joining for a Sustainable Future" Workshop

The participants of the workshop gather together outside the Wakefield Mill around Nathalie Coutou's painting "River Keeper".

From August 8 - 10, 2014 women from northern and Indigenous communities gathered with women involved in unions and labour movements in the scenic Wakefield, Quebec. They were gathering to explore how to strengthen their relationships and work in solidarity with one another, so as to contribute to diverse women's wellbeing in Canada's North.

The workshop originated in the idea that women’s interests in community vitality and the Indigenous principle of living “in a good way” are in tune with the labour movement’s commitment to “solidarity”. Over three days together the women would share their insights into building sustainable relationship and engaging in joint action to realize social justice and sustainability in northern communities, especially through exercising greater influence over the resource development agenda in the North.

On this page you will find the many resources that emerged from the shared learning in that workshop, including videos, reports, and workshop tools. Please use these resources, adapt them, and share them amongst your networks to facilitate community leaders and union organizers coming together in other contexts for joint actions for change!


"I Wonder..." - Do unions have a role to play in northern development?  Could unions help communities prepare for new development, adjust to the impacts of development, and weather economic slowdowns and project closures?  This question was explored by workshop participants. Here's what they had to say...

"What the Water Remembers" - Water surrounds us and makes up most of our bodies. It connects us and moves us as it is recycled through different places and forms. So what does the water remember? Women who participated in FemNorthNet’s “Women from Unions and Northern Communities Joining for a Sustainable Future”workshop in summer 2014 explored this question in depth. Their responses are summarized in this short, creative video.

"Divided, Coming Together" - The University College of the North’s new campus in Thompson offers updated facilities for Aboriginal and northern students seeking post-secondary education closer to home. The campus is especially important to Aboriginal women from the region, to be able to pursue learning while working and/or caring for family. Yet, the proposal for the new campus caused a lot of controversy – dividing the community. In this video, workshop participants explain what prompted these divisions, and how the campus ended up bringing people together.


"Geese" - Indigenous artist Nathalie Coutou explains the artistic process behind the creation of the FemNorthNet logo and the series of paintings it inspired.



Joining Northern Women and Unions for Sustainable Development - Workshop GuideJoining Northern Women & Unions for Sustainable Development: Workshop Guide 

FemNorthNet prepared this guide to help create sustainable futures for northern communities - futures that are built on solidarity and living in a good way with each other. We aim to help strengthen connections between northern and Indigenous communities and unions by encouraging inclusive conversations about big questions we all face, such as:

  • How do communities “talk” to unions?
  • What would attract Indigenous people in your community to a dialogue with unions?
  • How can Indigenous knowledge become an integral part of the labour movement?
  • How can unions contribute to decolonization? How can unions begin to decolonize themselves?

What is your most burning, powerful, or wicked question?

We hope this guide will help you feel prepared and inspired to encourage dialogue and creative actions in your communities, unions, and organizations. We hope that you will experience the power and possibility of community and union connection, in which the experiences of diverse northern women play a central role.

Aboriginal Peoples History – A Chronology of Colonization

Aboriginal Peoples History - A Chronology of Colonization by PSACDeveloped by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, this timeline documents the colonization of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. It is a good resource to reference and use when hosting workshops with unions (see link above) or any event where you wish to sensitize participants to the history of Aboriginal peoples and illustrate the need for decolonization and reconciliation.