Stories and Photos from Steelworker Summer 2016

Nine young people, children of Steelworkers, took part in the 2016 Steelworker Summer program. They learned about our union and about social-justice issues. Some of the activities were hands-on. For example, they created and then distributed leaflets about conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh, asking Canadians to lobby for improvements. Here’s what they had to say about their experience:

Nadeem - The past two months with the Steelworkers have been an absolute pleasure. At first I was a bit nervous coming into the program, since I was unsure of what would be asked of me and what I would need to do on a day to day basis. But within the first week our program coordinator did an amazing job at making us feel at home in the office and assigned us to our individual work assignments. Throughout the summer we attended workshops covering subjects from the labour movement to the importance of mental health; the experience as a whole was highly educational because the list of activities we completed as a group. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, and this was by far my most enjoyed position and hope that this program will grow into something even greater than it is today. Thank you Steelworkers for a great summer!

Delaney – My experience as a Steelworker Summer student was profoundly fun, energizing, and engaging all the way through. I met some truly wonderful and passionate people this summer who I was very fortunate to work alongside. Good luck to the next generations of Steelworker Summer students!

Galya - This summer program has been both educational and lots of fun. We were lucky enough to have a great coordinator, Rebecca Beaulne-Stuebing, and USW staff Adriane Paavo. Our group got the opportunity to go to Montreal for the World Social Forum which supported the things we were learning about social justice and equity, not to mention an opportunity for us to visit an incredible city and get closer with our group of interns. I have gained skills for working in an office environment and insight into the Union that will help me finish my degree and further into the future. Most exceptionally, we created Fake Birthday Friday which I hope carries over to other years of this program and into other office work spaces. 

Miranda - My experience as a Steelworkers Summer student has given me a foundation of understanding of unions and what they stand for. As a young worker who is a welder this program has provided information that is essential for self-knowledge and growth, it has given me a better understanding of how the union protects and represents their members.

Patrick - At first, I applied to the program not knowing specifically what a union does and how it contributes to social justice. But in the time that I’ve spent working in the Steelworkers Summer Program, I’ve been able to gain tons of information regarding social justice concerns through workshops and various activities. I’ve also been able to learn about the inner working of a union and how it’s applied in the field. During the program, I was able to work with an amazing group of people that came from various backgrounds and shared different opinions on various topics. In addition, through this program, I was also able to meet people that have been involved in various campaigns that made a change and/or trying to make a change in the community. Through this program, I’ve been able to learn so much while having fun and I’m grateful for the many things that this program has offered.

Stephen - This year's summer program has been a good learning experience. Throughout the summer we did various activities which I felt were really educational, engaging and well thought out. I've met a group of amazing people and got a greater understanding of how the union works and supports their members. I hope next year’s program is just as good and I hope I can work with the union members again.

Sayshan - Working at the United Steelworkers National office as a summer Intern has been a great opportunity and the highlight of my 2016 summer. This program has opened my eyes to the many challenges and unjust situations many of our workers are faced with on a daily basis. The program has taught me about the union’s involvement inside and outside of the office and what the union has accomplished thus far. Coming into the internship I would describe myself as antisocial but the program has definitely broadened my social skills and has allowed me to feel more comfortable when talking to large groups of people. The internship has allowed me to learn more in depth on social justice movements worldwide and to also participate in effective activities from organizations within our city. The coordinator, Rebecca Beaulne-Stuebing, has been the greatest manager, support staff, and mentor and has definitely been an asset to this program. 

Judith - The first few summers I worked were not ideal; in fact I had your exact stereotypical terrible teenage jobs. So after having spent my last summer cleaning toilets at the CNE, you could say I was quite excited to have gotten what seemed like a dream job. The craziest part. however, was that I turned out to be right. From attending a wide range of social justice workshops, to going on guided tours in High Park and on Spadina, to getting involved in the USW support of workers in Bangladesh, to attending the World Social Forum, to meeting amazing people that broadened my view of the world--my Steelworker Summer experience has been unforgettable. It has definitely impacted me in an immensely positive way and has helped me grow as an activist, student, and human.

Tyler - The Steelworker Summer Program has taught me a lot over the past 8 weeks. I have had the opportunity to obtain experience dealing with topics that are not covered in school. Also it has given me the opportunity to experience a variety of grass roots organizations throughout the GTA. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking for ways to get involved with their community in a positive and rewarding way.