Archive for the ‘News Articles’ Category

Janna’s Path to Activism

October 7, 2022

by Janet Nicol

“My whole life led up to where I need to be now,” activist Janna Pratt says. A former Unifor 1-S member and residential school Survivor, Pratt’s remarkable life journey is profiled in the upcoming issue of Our Times, with its theme of Truth and Reconciliation.

Pratt created the painting below based on photographs of her five grandmothers, her five “nohkoms.” She has respected their privacy by not detailing facial features. Instead she emphasizes dynamic symbols connected to them—-“a ribbon skirt, a red jacket.”

Our Times is available on magazine stands across Canada and by subscription at their on-line website.

Image: Courtesy Janna Pratt

Men’s Sheds

August 17, 2022

by Janet Nicol


Seniors form the backbone of the organization,” observes Mike Jennings about Men’s Sheds, a non-profit organization offering men space to talk over coffee—and employ their carpentry skills to help others. Jennings is a spokesperson for the Men’s Sheds Association of British Columbia (MSABC) and a member of the Men’s Shed in Coquitlam.

So begins a story about an impressive community organization spanning three continents. For the full article in Senior Line magazine, Summer 2022, click on the link below. Print copies also available at no cost at various Vancouver locations.

Senior Line magazine – COVER ART: Lone Tratt, Reflections, Center Panel from Triptych, 96″x48″, Acrylic on Canvas

Stories of the Floods

March 31, 2022


When last year’s torrential rains arrived in BC, municipal governments were overwhelmed by the ensuing flood and mudslide emergencies. A patchwork of volunteers and first responders came to the rescue, among them members of trade unions and First Nations. These are some of their stories.

Check out my article in the Spring, 2022 issue of Our Times magazine. Available in print & on line soon.

Flames on the Frontlines

December 6, 2021

Fire fighters are on the front lines of the climate crisis. These men and women were fighting several wildfires this past summer, the third worse season in British Columbia’s history. Ryan Moreside, BC Wildfire Service employee and member of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) says in an interview – “It’s easier to work at night. There is less wind and the temperature is down, but we’re still chasing the fire.” I also talk to Darrel Peters, a Firekeeper and territorial patrol leader with the Skeetchestn Indian Band, a member of the Secwepemc Nation. He speaks of a reverence for the land in trouble, saying, “This land is our dinner plate, where the medicine is.” You’ll also get the most amazing peek into the working life of a “smokejumper,” Ingrid Pond, one of those brave souls who is parachuted into fire zones to help fight the fires. (See blog post below for a link to the full story.)

The full article is available on line and in print, at Our Times magazine (Winter, 2021) – link at

Into the Fire Zone

November 29, 2021

by Janet Nicol

Ingrid Pond began fighting BC wildfires two summers ago, after accruing seven seasons on crews in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. For four of those seasons in Ontario, Pond was crew leader. There, she and her crew were transported to remote wildfires by helicopter. Now she’s part of a unique BC Wildfire Service program called Parattack. Her job in BC still involves flying to remote fires, but with a difference. When they arrive at the scene, she and her fellow crew members parachute from a plane.

For my full interview with Pond, click on Our Times magazine link –

Watch for additional interviews with Indigenous fire watchers and BC Wildfire Service employees in an upcoming feature in Our Times magazine, Winter 2021. (in print and on-line)

Photograph credit – Pete West

Words, actions and accountability

September 17, 2021

By Janet Nicol

Tarana Burkę, creator and Executive Director of the American Me Too movement, set the stage for a timely discussion on human rights at a Canadian Labour Congress pre-conference event this June.   Burke was interviewed by Dr. Hadiya Roderique, a diversity and inclusion advocate.   A panel discussion comprised of Canadian activists followed.

For the full report, check out the Upfront section of Our Times magazine, Summer/Fall 2021, on magazine stands soon.

Burke’s recently published book, tells the personal and political story of the Me Too movement.


April 16, 2021

A Whimsical Sculpture Warns of Asbestos Dangers


A seven-metre-high metal sculpture installed outdoors at the Vancouver Convention Centre will be sure to catch the eye of locals and tourists alike with its playful, wind-blown mobile of cups, spokes and wheels. But when viewers of the British Columbia Labour Heritage Centre (BCLHC) art project take a closer look, they will be in for a surprise.

“Wind Wheel Mobile” by Vancouver artist Doug Taylor has a very serious message: the art piece, scheduled to be unveiled this spring, is a memorial to workers who have died from asbestos-related illnesses. Once considered the “magic mineral,” asbestos is still the number one killer of BC workers, with 47 deaths in 2018 alone. Across North America, the mineral’s deadly fibres are responsible for 40 per cent of workplace deaths.

“We decided against a memorial that was traditional and sombre,” says Joey Hartman, Chair of the BCLHC and past president of the Vancouver & District Labour.  “Doug’s work is whimsical, light and kinetic. It will get people to pause and say ‘what is this?’” 

The full story is available on line at Our Times magazine –


Covid Chronicles

March 9, 2021

By Janet Nicol

A living history project by workers and the BC Labour Heritage Centre.

Canadians on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic are facing risks that workers faced a century ago when the Spanish flu swept the globe — but this time working people are telling their stories and people are listening, including volunteers at the BC Labour Heritage Centre, in Vancouver.

“It sets you to thinking about your own history,” says Marie Decaire, a member of the centre’s board who recently retired from her job at the Community Savings Credit Union. “My mother was born in the Kootenays around the time of the flu outbreak. She never mentioned the Spanish flu when I was growing up. And I never asked.”

Lasting from February 1918 to April 1920, the 1918 flu pandemic infected 500 million people, about a third of the world’s population at the time. Last year, Decaire researched Vancouver newspapers published in 1918 and she noticed how workers’ lives were rarely mentioned. She didn’t want the same thing to happen to workers and their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so she proposed an oral history project called “COVID Chronicles: Labour’s Story.”

“Workers’ voices need to be heard,” she says. “When I proposed the idea of collecting COVID stories, everyone loved it.”

So what are BC workers saying? Check out the latest issue of Our Times magazine to find out.

Our Times magazine, Winter 2021.

Working with Courage and Care

February 17, 2021

by Janet Nicol

“I love being a first responder and saving lives,” says mental health worker Brionne Kennedy in a telephone interview with Our Times. Trained in First Aid and a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 1004, she is employed with PHS Community Services Society, a charitable, non-profit in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. 

For the past three years she has worked at the Maple Hotel, which houses 70 residents. She works 12-hour shifts, three days a week, alongside one other co-worker. A single mother, Kennedy has been on personal leave since August 2020, and looks forward to returning to work soon.

For the full interview, go to the Our Times magazine website –

More of my stories about front line workers braving the pandemic – and the valuable work of the BC Labour Heritage Centre preserving this living history – coming soon in Our Times magazine, Winter 2021.

Brionne Kennedy (right) assists a Maple Hotel resident having trouble climbing the stairs after the elevator broke down, by offering to move his belongings to a vacant room on a lower floor. PHOTOGRAPH: JOSHUA BERSON

Behind the Magic

November 19, 2019

by Janet Nicol

Working conditions have created a powder keg inside dozens of Vancouver’s animation studios.

In this cover story for Our Times magazine, I interview artists employed on contracts in Vancouver and Toronto animation studios, as well as the organizers working toward building a union as a means to better their conditions.

The full article is available in the Fall 2019 issue of Our Times magazine, available this month at Chapters/Indigo and some independent book stores as well as on-line subscription.  The article is also posted on line at the “Our Times” magazine website.