Unions Gathered to Recognize Bromley L. Armstrong Award Recipients at Annual Gala

BE | December 2022 | Issue No. 1


The 17th annual Bromley Lloyd Armstrong Award was presented to Vanessa Stoby, Carol Wall, and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation - District 16, with Special Recognition presented to Carolyn Egan, for their tireless work in the areas of Equity, Inclusion, and Human Rights. Their work is nothing short of ground-breaking…and that’s being humble. 

The Bromley L. Armstrong Awards Gala took place virtually on June 8, 2022, and was supported by representatives from more than 20 unions (a reunion of the biggest and boldest minds in labour and activism, yet, had the comfort of being amongst friends and family). The award recipients join an impressive group of alumni who continue to pave the way for generations to come.

Bromley’s legacy, and the strides he made in fighting for human rights, has been an inspiration for all those who had the privilege of working alongside him, and for those who learn about his work. As we know, fighting for human rights and social justice for all, is anything but an easy task.

We look forward to seeing the 2023 nominees. Nomination forms will become available early 2023. Stay tuned by checking the LCS website.

2022 Bromley Lloyd Armstrong Recipients' Bios

Vanessa Stoby, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation - District 16

Vanessa embodies the values, courage, dedication, and determination of the late Bromley L. Armstrong. She has worked tirelessly within her union and in the greater community to advocate and advance the rights of Black, Indigenous, and Racialized people. As the Vice-President of Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation District 16, Vanessa has worked tirelessly to dismantle anti-Black racism. She has taken steps to eliminate barriers Black people face and build bridges between Black communities and other communities.

In the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd, Vanessa brought together Black community leaders and union leaders in York Region. The group had honest gut-wrenching conversations about confronting and addressing Anti-Black racism while building bridges of solidarity between community members and union leaders. She took a collaborative approach in organizing Black Youth York Region (B.Y.R. Youth). A primary aim of B.Y.R. Youth is to provide a space for young people to learn to dismantle and challenge anti-Black racism and systemic oppression. BYR Youth's July 2020 Unstoppable youth-led online panel discussion was reported on in NewmarketToday.ca's online publication. Vanessa's commitment to B.Y.Y.R.'s progress is evident in their much-anticipated June 18th, 2022, Youth Leadership Conference. Her work in the community extends in many directions, most notably with the organization, Parents of Black Children, developing relationships with unionized teachers and Black parents.

On the labour front, with support from leadership and like-minded members at O.S.S.T.F.-D.16, a proactive systemic approach to dismantling anti-Black and systemic racism was embarked on by the team. Their work led to establishing an Anti-Black Racism Executive Officer as a full-time paid release position to be held by the person who identifies as Black. This position is now enshrined in O.S.S.T.F.-D.16's bylaws and constitution.

Vanessa's tenacity truly exemplifies the spirit of Bromley L. Armstrong and his willingness to work with allies to combat racism and injustice.

Carol Wall, Unifor Local 87M SONG

Carol Wall is genuinely a leader's leader. She not only exemplifies the attributes of integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity; she also mentors others in developing the same qualities. A rank-and-file activist with Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild (SONG), Carol became the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada's (CEP) first Director of Human Rights in 2000. A remarkable feat in a male-dominated union. She worked closely with members and leadership to develop and build consensus for adopting CEP's first policy framework on human rights and anti-racism. She also worked tirelessly on the pay equity initiative. Being the first is not new to Carol. She was the first Black woman to become the Ontario Regional Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, where she provided grievance and mediation assistance in numerous collective bargaining disputes in various industries. Her work involved designing customized joint workshops for unions and employers to improve labour relations between bargaining periods.

In 2002, she was elected vice president of the Canadian Labour Congress, representing workers of colour. Under her leadership, the workers of colour caucus were cohesive and proactive in advocating for more equitable representation of BIPOC in leadership positions. In 2005, Carol led by example when she ran for the presidency of the CLC, gaining 37% of the popular vote in the face of significant adversity.

A life-long educator, Carol is a much sought-after facilitator and speaker in the labour movement on strategic planning, organizational change, and equity training. She co-authored the book Education for Changing Unions, published in 2002, which won "Best Book Related to the Field of Labor Education" from the United Association for Labor Education based in Chicago, Illinois.

Carol has led by example, shattering the stereotypes and surmounting systemic barriers in white and male-dominated institutions. Always mindful of giving back, Carol is a long-time member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. She served on the Ontario Federation of Labour Women's Committee and numerous boards, including the Pay Equity Advocacy and Legal Services Clinic and York University's Centre for Research on Work and Society. Her presence and leadership have inspired many others to follow.

As a feminist and climate, activist Carol sees challenging the dominant power structure as a respectable endeavour that demands speaking truth to power and standing firm on a platform of social, racial, justice It takes courage, tenacity, and integrity to push for equity, human rights, and social justice within the labour movement and the larger society.

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation – District 16

OSSTF District 16 has been proactive in taking decisive action to promote an inclusive and equitable society. The urgency to address systemic racism became more acute during the pandemic. Covid-19 exposed what many already knew about the prevalence and impact of anti-Black and systemic racism. Many public calls have been made for tangible actions to end anti-Black and systemic racism. In addressing racism and its devastating results, OSSTF made sure its steps were specific, implementable, and systemic.

Achieving goal-orientated actions could not happen without strong leadership. Scott West – Executive Officer, Vanessa Stoby – First Vice President, and - Blair Vowels Communication/Political Action & Excellence in Education championed a systemic change within their local. Their work resulted in OSSTF District 16 members voting to incorporate an Anti-Black Racism (ABR) officer in their constitution and bylaws. This endeavour was no simple accomplishment.

D-16 budgeted for the ABR officer to be a full-time paid release position to ensure the changes were more than the words written in their constitution and bylaws. The local’s vision is to ensure its members, students they instruct, and people in the communities they serve are growing towards becoming more inclusive and equitable.

Recognizing the urgency and need to address racism, the ABR officer has started working towards aiding and supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) members. This work included developing critical anti-Back and anti-racism education workshops to support D-16 entire membership. A Black Caucus has been established to support members who self-identify as Black, many of whom have commented on struggles face working for the school board and the need for peer support. The bold steps taken by OSSTF District 16 under the leadership of Scott West, Vanessa Stoby, and Blair Vowels are a concrete example of how changemakers can embark on systemic change in the labour movement. It is clear that the journey is not over, and more work is still being done. However, a path has been paved for others in the labour movement.

Carolyn Egan, United Steelworkers Local 8300

For more than three decades, Sister Carolyn Egan has been a stand-out phenomenon in Toronto’s social justice movement. She has been active and supportive of many social movements such as the Black Action Defence Committee, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and the United steelworkers’ Human Rights Committee. She has stood up and fought for the rights of women, workers, and LGBTQ2s+ people.

In the early 90s, Carolyn helped the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) union sisters fight the sexual harassment they faced in the workplace. Her resolve inspired women at the C.U.P.W. gateway site to confront and take action against the harassment. She has pioneered practical anti-Islamophobia work and was recently instrumental in creating Toronto’s Anti-Hate Network. She has also led the way in International Solidarity actions and the anti-war movement. Her energy and enthusiasm have been boundless, unstoppable, and inspiring.

Through her long involvement with, and leadership, of the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, she has won the love and deep respect of hundreds of our local members (and their families). She has inspired and involved them in a host of campaigns and solidarity actions in Toronto, across Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and the United States of America. Under her guidance, member-centred services - Lifeline, the Injured Workers program, and the Job Action Centre - have prospered and expanded. Under her guidance, the Steel Hall at 25 Cecil has become a hub for countless community events and organizations.

Two and a half decades ago, Carolyn’s crucial, farsighted involvement helped bring the University of Toronto support staff into the union fold, a force that includes several thousand women. By force of personality and her instinct for reaching out to and bringing together rank-and-file members, she has presided over the transformation of our traditionally male-dominated, predominantly manufacturing and somewhat socially conservative union into a diverse, progressive and action-oriented social force.

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Bromley Lloyd Armstrong

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