If you’ve been following this site for long you’re probably familiar with my work examining how unions, NGOs and activists all too often appropriate marginalized people’s voices. My first awareness of this phenomenon came during Occupy Vancouver when activists from No One Is Illegal inserted homeless indigenous men into the camp, labelled them as “elders”, and tried to use their presence to pressure the city into accepting a (faux) sacred fire.
My research into appropriation of voice often leads me to Canada’s new militant union unifor (a merger of the CAW & CEP). The biggest example was with Kevin Annett, a man who falsely claimed to discover a mass grave of Indian Residential School children in Ontario- there was a CAW activist on-site at the ‘dig’, and Annett was employed by the CAW after the United Church defrocked him for his fraud. My favourite example of unifor’s appropriation was in February, when two white people (including one named White!) issued a press release capitalizing on the death of Loretta Saunders.
Knowing unifor’s history, I fully expected I’d find myself writing another appropriation story. But, considering our lack of agreement on things, I never thought I’d be the person whose voice was being appropriated!