Moncton – Last week, from August 6 to 10th, the New Brunswick Federation of Labour (NBFL) hosted its 12th annual Blair Doucet Youth Summer Camp. Similar to past years, the youth put into practice some of the things they learned throughout the week. The camp finished on Friday morning with campers negotiating the Collective Agreement of next year’s camp with their counsellors. The youth successfully negotiated changes to conditions such as bed time, wakeup calls and types of activities scheduled during the camp. Had they not been successful in their negotiating, the negotiating team had a 100% strike mandate from their peers.
On Tuesday, August 7th, campers had elected executive officers to represent them during negotiations with their camp counsellors. Sophie Nadeau was elected as their President, Nicolas Roy as the Vice President, Laura Sehl as Secretary, Colby Rice as Shop Steward and Rebecca Churchill as Occupational Health and Safety Representative.
Throughout the week, as the youth learned about their rights as workers, the history of the labour movement and the role that the labour movement plays in the broader society, camp participants also planned their negotiating strategy.
“Over the week we have seen the solidarity grow among the camp participants,” said Paula Doucet-Jones, Second Vice-President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, and daughter of Blair Doucet, as she handed out certificates to each participant. “The knowledge obtained at this camp and the friendships formed will follow the participants throughout their lives,” said Doucet-Jones.
This year’s camp saw 23 campers come together from across the province, 12 girls and 11 boys. For the past twelve years, New Brunswick youth in high school, from grades 9 to 12, have been coming together to learn, have fun and make friends. To be eligible at least one of the youth’s parent must be a member of a labour union affiliated with the New Brunswick Federation of Labour.
“Thank you to the parents who encourage their children to attend this camp. I encourage the campers to promote this camp with their friends for next year. You are the future leaders of this province. I hope that you will get involved in either the labour movement or in community organizations. Most importantly do not forget to vote,” said Michel Boudreau, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour.
The camp is free of charge to campers and each receives a $250 scholarship for their participation when they graduate from high school. The Blair Doucet Youth Summer Camp is made possible by the financial contributions received from unions affiliated to the NBFL and by the camp counsellors who volunteer their time during the week.
“Part of my father’s vision for the camp was also to promote post-secondary education, in addition to offering a summer camp experience,” added Doucet-Jones. Blair Doucet was the NBFL President from 1999 to 2005. He believed that the union movement should be brought to the youth of the province. Doucet passed away in February 2009. The summer camp is named in his memory.
The camp ended on an emotional note as August 10th, coincidently the last day of the camp, was Blair Doucet’s birthday. Once all of the youth had received their certificate of participation, cake was served to mark this special occasion. Shawn Gallagher, Blair Doucet’s son, also attended the closing ceremonies.