Charles Demers is a Vancouver author, political activist, stand-up comedian and faculty member of the Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia.
One of the founding editors of Seven Oaks magazine, his humour essays, book and film reviews, editorials and short stories have appeared in such print and online publications as Vancouver Magazine, The Georgia Straight, Only Magazine, Rabble.ca, The Westender, The Tyee, This Magazine, Monthly Review’s MRZine.org, and others.
His collection of essays, Vancouver Special (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009) was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans BC Book Prize for Non-Fiction. He is also the author of a novel, The Prescription Errors (Insomniac Press, 2009). As a stand-up comic, he has performed for national television and radio audiences. He is one of the most frequently returning stars of CBC Radio’s smash-hit comedy The Debaters.
A former rank-and-file organizer with the Canadian Auto Workers’ union, long-time member of Stopwar.ca and a founding member of Vancouver’s Palestine Solidarity Group, he has also performed at Vancouver’s international Comedy Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival, and in other comedy festivals on both sides of the border.
Elaine Bernard, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Labour and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Trade Union Program. Born and raised in Canada, Dr. Bernard has a BA from the University of Alberta, a MA from the University of British Columbia and Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University.
A lifelong union member and activist, Dr. Bernard brings a refreshing balance of humour and passion for worker rights to her talks and teaching. She has conducted courses on a wide variety of topics for unions, community groups, universities and government departments. Her current research and teaching interests are in the areas of international comparative labour movements, union leadership and governance, and the role of unions in promoting civil society, democracy and economic growth.
Some of her more recent talks and publications include:
“Igniting the Union Inspiration”,
“From Heroes to Zeros: the War on Unions and the Public Sector”,
“Lighting Fires vs Putting Them Out: Creating a Union Organizing Culture”, and
“Social Justice Unionism: Labour as a Political Force”
Reading, writing and arithmetic are more important than ever in today’s economy. Virtually every job requires some capacity to solve problems, use a computer for non-routine tasks and to communicate complex ideas clearly. Meeting these demands requires higher levels of language, literacy and numeracy skills than 40 percent of the people working in western Canada have. This is a problem, and it’s getting worse, and it won’t fix itself.
Janet Lane, Director, Canada West Foundation Centre for Human Capital Policy
Scott Murray, President, DataAngel Policy Research Inc.
Bill Fletcher Jr. has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in shipyard, thereby entering the labour movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labour unions in addition to serving as a senior staff person in the national AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations). He is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.