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BC Federation of Retired Union

BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Spring, 2019


Bringing people together

By Soren Bech,

Editor, The Advocate

Born in Poland in 1935. Uprooted at the age of eight by the brutality of World War II. Making his way to Canada, on his own, when he was 19.

These are experiences that would mark a lot of people for the rest of their days. Yet Art Kube lived his life filled with optimism and boundless determination to build a more civil society.

“I have tried to make it my life’s work to improve the quality of life for people.”

Art had an uncanny ability to bring people together and encourage them to take action.

As David Rice, retired regional director of the CLC once told me, “You can’t say no to Art.”

Brother Kube was, of course, the driving force behind Operation Solidarity and the Solidarity Coalition formed to counter Premier Bill Bennett’s 1983 assault on unions, basic human rights and public services.

“It was the broadest social movement, not just the largest, but also the broadest that the province has ever known,” said Father Jim Roberts, one of the co-chairs of the Solidarity Coalition.

The Harrison Winter School, originally held in Parksville, started under Art’s direction when he was regional director of the CLC. He believed union members should not be asked to work all week and then give their weekends to labour education.

“It also involved a political party,” Art told me in a 2014 interview. “Every week of the Winter School, Dave Barrett was there.

“(General sessions) impressed upon workers the importance of recognizing that they’re just as good as anybody else. Many people realized for the first time that they’re part of a bigger movement,” he said.

Art was a tireless advocate for seniors.

When a group of union retirees was denied the right to appear before a House of Commons committee holding hearings on patent protection for pharmaceuticals, he told them they needed “a sexier name.” “I went home… called up my friends and said, ‘You’re now on the executive of Seniors on Guard for Medicare.’ Then I made up a letterhead and sent a letter to the chair of the committee. A day later I got a phone call asking when we could appear,” said Art with a huge smile.

Art served as director, President and Ombudsperson for the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations (COSCO), supporting and expanding its advocacy, lobbying and education work and helping to organize educational conferences. He was a life member of BC FORUM and a member of the Order of Canada.

He attended Labour Day celebrations every year, and constantly reminded union leaders of their responsibility to support social activism.

The annual Christmas celebrations hosted by Art and his family were often standing room only. They brought together hundreds of people, and frequently inspired conversations of past and future campaigns for a better world.

Art, you were a good friend and a steadfast ally. We miss you. We will cherish and do our best to live up to the inspiration you have given us.


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