Picnic and other events help mark city’s 100-year labour history

The Alberta Federation of Labour got its start in Lethbridge in 1912, and will hold several events at the beginning of May to commerate its 100th anniversary, with a little help from the Galt Museum.

The key event will be an all-ages picnic on May 5 from noon to 4 p.m at Galt Gardens. The event will begin with a union march from City Hall at 11 a.m. and will end at the park where the picnic will start. There will be music from the Lethbridge Gold and Silver Band and the Bamboo Guppies throughout the day. The Galt Museum will also be holding its Saturday program at the park, featuring old-fashioned picnic games such as a three-legged race. The event is free for everyone to attend.

"The event will highlight the strength of the labour movement in the past, and also its future," said Shannon Phillips, speaking on behalf of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"We're not just about strikes. We're here to celebrate the history of the movement, and the people who sweated and died so we can have the convenient life we have today," said Richard Merrick, the president of the Lethbridge and District Labour Council.

Merrick said it was easy to organize the event among the 20 labour unions in Lethbridge.

"The energy is just unbelievable among everyone," he said.

The Alberta Federation of Labour will be taking donations for the food banks in Lethbridge on the day of the picnic.

On May 3, the Galt Museum begins displaying an exhibit showcasing the history of labour unions throughout Alberta, which will run until Oct. 8. The exhibit consists of not only artifacts from various unions, but 13 text panels that tell the history of the labour movement in Alberta, developed with the assistance of the Alberta Labour History Institute. One of the panels specifically describes the history of the Alberta Federation of Labour in Lethbridge.

The exhibit will travel across Alberta once it has finished its run in Lethbridge, said Wendy Aitkens, curator for the Galt Museum.

On May 4, the Galt Museum holds a concert by Maria Dunn, a Juno Award-nominated folk artist from Edmonton. Dunn performed at the Galt last year, and her performance this year will incorporate photos and videos from the Provincial Archives related to unionization.

Tickets are free and can be picked up at the museum, although last week, almost all of the 200 available tickets were handed out.

Lethbridge Sun Times, Wed May 2 2012

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