Building Trust – CLAC’s 2023 National Convention

CLAC’s 2023 National Convention celebrated successes, looked to the future, and adopted resolutions to improve the lives of all workers

By Alison Brown

The soaring snowcapped mountains and breathtaking vistas of Banff National Park set the stage for CLAC’s 2023 National Convention, held last December 6 to 8. Over 200 delegates, staff, and guests from all over the country—and even some from overseas—convened at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for three days of learning, growing, and making connections.

A celebratory spirit permeated the atmosphere, shining as brightly as the rows upon rows of twinkling Christmas lights strung throughout the grand hotel. Because the last triennial convention took place virtually in 2020 in the thick of the pandemic, the opportunity to see fellow members in person was a memorable and meaningful occasion.

“I have attended every National Convention since 1965,” remarked one former long-serving CLAC staff member. “This one was the best!”

Over three days, attendees presented reports on each CLAC local’s work, projects, and advocacy, as well as presenting, discussing, and voting on five resolutions that seek to improve the lives of workers. New members were also elected to the National Board, CLAC’s governing body.

Keynote speaker Dr. Betty Pries gave a riveting talk on disagreeing well when riding the waves of change. She provided strategies for nurturing communities of belonging, noting that high-achieving teams feature emotional understanding and social cohesion, provide opportunities for dialogue, and have more women on them. A culture of helpfulness is more important to team success than individual intelligence. Reflecting the convention’s theme of Building Trust, she said that developing bonds of trust between one another develops social capital and an interdependency that builds trust.

CLAC also welcomed to the convention Bjørn van Heusden, executive secretary for the World Organisation of Workers (WOW). CLAC is an affiliated member of WOW, and Wayne Prins, CLAC executive director, currently serves as WOW president—the first non-European president ever.

In his remarks to the convention, Bjørn said “CLAC and WOW share a long history together. Both organizations were founded by people with the same beliefs and set of values and principles, CLAC in 1952, WOW in 1921. . . . CLAC has over the years become one of the most important and influential members of WOW. And we would like to see this continued.”

Besides taking part in the business of the convention, attendees also had the chance to explore the majestic sights and wintry beauty of the venue, taking long walks across Lake Louise, snapping pictures of the scenery, doing some cross-country skiing, and bundling up by the fire enjoying hot chocolate and s’mores. The feeling of togetherness was palpable, even amidst an Alberta snowstorm.

“We have an exciting strategic plan, a clear vision, and incredible staff, stewards, and members who can take up every challenge with enthusiasm and determination,” said Wayne in his state of the union address. “So, I say with confidence, and with an abundance of gratitude, that the state of our union is very good. Our success is proof that our model of labour relations works, and the potential that lies before us is vast.”


About WOW

WOW was founded as a Social Christian trade union and finds inspiration in the spiritual believe that man and universe were created by God or by persuasions coinciding with that. The increase of intercultural contacts provided opportunities for the WOW to expand and broaden its view with visions of other religious backgrounds. WOW does so in a joint attempt to build a world community based on freedom, dignity, justice and solidarity.

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