Documentary - 20 minutes

Directed by Aaron Floresco






      A Struggle to Remember: Fighting for our Families
explores how Canadian feminists, unionists and political activists built a potent coalition, mobilized public opinion and achieved vast improvements in maternity leave and other family leave benefits. The 20‐minute documentary starts with the 1960's struggle to recognise   women's role in society and the workplace. This struggle led to the 1971 extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits to include partly paid maternity leave. The story looks at key struggles in Quebec and BC to fully replace the wages of women on maternity leave and honours the unique contribution of early feminist unions.

The documentary shows how it became accepted that women should be able to return to their jobs after maternity leave, how men and women gained real and enforceable work‐life balance provisions, how key same‐sex benefit cases in the 1980's outlawed discrimination in bereavement leave. Briefly we look at Canada in a world context. Why did American workers only get 4 weeks' paid maternity leave in 2009 ? How do major countries like Germany maintain high economic growth and provide better maternity and family benefits? How has the globalized economy affected workers' family obligations?

Interviews with key figures from the movement, and interviews with people who have directly gained from the changes in family benefits are shown. Archival footage shows unionists agitating, organizing and striking to advance family issues as union priorities. Contemporary footage shows how the struggle continues today with issues like the negotiation of aboriginal custom adoption contract language in Inuktitut and Dene.

The voices and faces of family leave pioneers  must be preserved and honoured. Feminist organizations that have morphed or disappeared under funding cuts must not fade from the historical record. Political actors, community activists and unionists must be acclaimed for their successes, and challenged with what remains to be done.

We need to take pride in how this has made our families, communities, regions and country better off. It's a solid and lasting accomplishment that provides a good base for the future. This documentary achieves these goals.