Source:, 7 July 2013

On the one hand, Commander Hadfield’s observation is bang on. The availability of guaranteed benefits such as paid leave for parents is a crucial indicator of how we choose to treat each other. In Canada, family leave has had a major, positive effect on children’s welfare and the career options for workers, especially women.

But with all due respect to Commander Hadfield, “chance” – apart from the accident of birthplace – has had little to do with the establishment of family leave. The rights that we now enjoy in Canada are the result of a hard-fought campaign that included years of negotiation and strikes by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and parts of the Communications Workers of Canada, among others. Their determined efforts ensure that today Canadians benefit from enforceable life/work balance provisions and can return to their jobs after parental leave.

The Workers’ History Museum documented this campaign in A Struggle to Remember: Fighting for Our Families.

Directed by award-winning Winnipeg director Aaron Floresco, this fascinating documentary includes archival footage and interviews with Canadian feminists, unionists and political leaders. The inspiring stories from this groundbreaking movement flow organically into other campaigns for social justice, including those of aboriginal adoptions and GLBT rights.

Global access to family leave is not a matter of chance but an ongoing struggle, and Canadians have an important story to tell. The WHM is committed to spreading the word about this astounding effort, but we need your help. We are currently seeking a few committed outreach volunteers who can promote this video to interested organizations (e.g., libraries, museums, labour studies and womens’ studies departments, etc.). If you might be interested, we’d love to talk to you. Please email volunteer@localhost:8080 for more information.