Trent's University's OPSEU Local 365 challenged students to think about social justice, and to express their thoughts in an innovative way — all as part of its 50th Anniversary Award program.
OPSEU asked students to enter the award contest by making a statement about the importance of organized labour — in a medium of their choice. Approximately $10,000 in prize money was awarded. On February 3, first, second and third-place monetary prizes in undergraduate and graduate categories were presented at Lady Eaton College.
First place undergraduate winner Kenneth Mills composed two songs, while first place graduate winner Martin Shoots-McAlpine compiled a Facebook page on the labour movement.
"I decided to enter because both labour history and music are personal interests and I have studied their confluence in past conflicts, both in Canada and globally," states Mr. Mills. "This...seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore these themes with a specific task in mind."
Other student submissions included artwork, music, videos and websites.
"We wanted to do something special to thank the students. We're here because of the students, enjoy working with them, and wanted to give back," said Dorothy Howard-Gill, an Environmental Sciences lab demonstrator, and member of the Local 365 OPSEU Award sub-committee. "We were very pleased by the quality of the submissions."
Contest judges included Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president, OPSEU; Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor, Trent; Dr. Bryan D. Palmer, Canadian Studies; Dr. Joan Sangster, Gender & Women's Studies; and Prof. David Newhouse, Indigenous Studies.
"Due to the inherent complexity in comparing entries with totally dissimilar mediums, we decided early on that our judges should be leading experts in various dimensions of social justice," said Matt Keefer, an Information Technology programmer/analyst, and member of the award sub-committee. "Thankfully, we didn’t have to look far. Both Trent and OPSEU have some astoundingly talented and passionate members, who graciously agreed to participate."
Local 365 represents more than 350 support staff members at Trent, including personnel in services and buildings, secretarial and office, administrative, library and scientific support positions.
The top three submissions in each category were:
- 1st Kenneth Mills
- 2nd Jose Sanchez
- 3rd Emily Templeman
- 1st Martin Shoots-McAlpine
- 2nd Sean Carleton / Julia Smith
- 3rd Hannah Howey