If you’ve ever attended any WHM events, you’ve surely met this month’s volunteer. He’s a constant presence, whether talking to visitors about the museum at Colonel By Day or graciously recording the proceedings of each Communications meetings. We hope you enjoy meeting this lifelong activist.
Name: Evert Hoogers
Where are you from? I was born in Edmonton, grew up primarily in B.C.’s Okanagan and West Kootenay area, moved to Vancouver (where I perceived the action to be) in 1963 and ended up in Ottawa, where I have remained since the late 1980s.
What is your primary occupation? Currently my primary occupation is maximizing the enjoyment of retirement. Previously, I was a postal worker and union activist, representative, and organizer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, following a brief period in the B.C. student movement.
How long have you been a volunteer with the WHM? Why did you join? I became involved in the WHM just prior to its founding Annual General Meeting. From my perspective, it is a great fit, because it allows me to carry out and expand on work that I have passionately embraced for most of my adult life. But it is deeper than that. It has been said many times that history is written by the victors, and this has been proven in spades in the case of workers, both organized and unorganized, who are rarely honoured for having built this country (this applies as well, of course, to workers in many other countries). The WHM gives us the opportunity of working to right this distressing imbalance, even if just to a small degree. And since workers’ history isn’t emphasized in school, in books, or in the media, our work contributes to the ongoing “struggle to remember” the lives, contributions, and collective projects of workers over the years. I use the term “workers” in a broad sense covering the unemployed, the dispossessed, and the marginalized in our society.
If you could drive across Canada with anyone, who would you choose to travel with and why? Assuming I wouldn’t have access to a bus or train to transport a whole bunch of people I’d like to travel with, I’m just going to bring back two people in my time machine and bundle them into a car, all gassed up and ready to go. Those two are—Mary Harris (“Mother”) Jones and Arthur (“Slim”) Evans.
Now it’s true Mother Jones carried out her iconic organizing work primarily in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century around child labour, in the United Mine Workers Union, and as a founder of the emergent IWW, but a number of her formative years were spent in Canada (Toronto, I believe), and no matter how tenuous the Canadian connection, I want her in that cross-Canada trip with me so we can talk about her role in the tumultuous labour events she participated in and, importantly, led as a woman in a labour movement massively dominated by men. And Slim Evans is absolutely needed in the car to help me deepen my understanding of the dynamics of organizing in my home province of B.C. during the depression years and of his perspective as a leader of the magnificent labour project known as the “On-to-Ottawa trek.”
Of course, starting the trip is the easy part. I worry the cross-Canada trip may be quite long one, since these two are likely to want to stop in every community along the way, suss out the organizing possibilities and get things moving on the ground!