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    Unions Supporting Community
    Harrison Winter School
    CPP News Services

    How can you start the year off on a positive note and help support your community? It’s easy; simply attend the Canadian Labour Congress Harrison Winter School.

    Each year Labour representatives from across the Province and the Yukon head to Harrison Hot Springs to attend the Harrison Winter School. Now in its 30th year, Harrison Winter School attracts more than 250 participants per week, for four weeks, to attend what is considered to be, the premier labour school in North America. “Participants spend their days attending classes, networking and interacting with one another,” said David Rice, Director, Pacific Region of the CLC. ”There is a lot of learning that happens both inside the classroom and out.” 

    For the past 23 years, a key component of the partnership between United Way of the Lower Mainland and the Canadian Labour Congress has been the role United Way staff and volunteers play at Harrison Winter School. Labour representatives from United Way provide courses on Union Counseling; training union members to help their colleagues deal with problems of personal impact. “Union Counsellors play a vital role in connecting the union, the workplace and the community,” said Merv Van Steinburg, Director of United Way’s Labour Department. “Participants learn skills that they take back to their workplace and their community.” 

    This year, United Way delivered 5 courses in which 75 union members attended ; three focusing on Union Counseling levels 1 and 2,a critical incident stress training course and a course on unions in the community. These programs are prevention based and focus on teaching skills that help people cope with a problem before it becomes a crisis. 

    What does this mean to our community to have union members receive this training? It means impact, strength and added support. After this exposure, union members return to their communities with new knowledge. They are enthusiastic and eager to become involved. Union Counselors play a vital role in linking the workplace and the community. They are not therapists or specialists in solving social problems; rather they are trained Union members able to help their fellow employees, providing guidance on a wide range of issues from helping a co-worker with elderly parents to accessing substance abuse programs. As pressures in the workplace and community grow, so does the role of the Union Counselor. 

    To make the most impact in the community over the long term, the focus of United Way is on the value of prevention- based programs. The Union Counseling program, an excellent model of an effective preventative program offering significant benefits to the entire community, is the flagship of the CLC/United Way Labour Participation Program. 

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