'Social Justice In The Age Of
George the first to speak in the 2012 President's
Leadership Lecture Series Feb 20
Released by Anne Russell/UFV photo
Patsy George returns to the University of the Fraser Valley next week as
the first speaker in the 2012 President's Leadership Lecture Series.
She will speak on Mon, Feb 20, in room B121 at 4:30 pm on the UFV
Abbotsford campus on King Road. Admission is free and the public is
George is a social worker, women's right activist, and community
volunteer. Although retired, she remains a social activist with a keen
interest in social justice and a strong desire to see improvement in the
conditions of marginalized people, particularly those from Aboriginal
She has received many honours and accolades including the Order of
British Columbia (2002) and the Order of Canada (2007). And just last
year, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UFV.
As a social activist with many decades of experience in the trenches,
she's not surprised by the Occupy movement that erupted in 2011, and
sees it as the manifestation of a long-simmering frustration on the part
of ordinary people.
"If you look at what has gone on in the last 10 to 15 years in the area
of social justice, people are starting express a lot of anger and
anxiety about the inequalities within our society," George says. "These
inequalities are getting worse, and young people are seeing that the
government cannot guarantee them prosperity and that a small number of
people are becoming extremely wealthy while the vast majority are seeing
their prosperity decrease."
George cites the Caterpillar Corporation's recent decision to pull out
of Ontario and relocate to Indiana when workers would not take a wage
cut as an example of the disproportionate balance of power in an era of
"The CEO of Caterpillar makes $10.5 million and yet they were asking
employees to take a significant wage cut, and our government was
powerless to do anything about it. That's the kind of environment we
find ourselves in these days."
George says that neither capitalism nor communism have worked perfectly
to provide an equitable society for the majority of people, and that we
need to find a "third way."
"We need to find a way for people and communities to take care of one
another and provide jobs and services, with government involvement, but
also with the involvement of people in general," she says.
The UN has declared 2012 the Year of Cooperatives to raise public
awareness of the contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty
reduction, employment generation, and social integration, and also to
highlight the strengths of the cooperative business model as an
alternative means of doing business and furthering socioeconomic
It's a model that George likes.
"If you look back to the depression of the 1930s there are some
wonderful examples of people working together to bring goods to market
at a fair price or wage, such as the Antigonish movement among the
fishers of Nova Scotia, or the wheat farmers on the prairies," she says.
Workers also grouped together to found stores and insurance companies to
serve their needs.
George also hearkens back to the 1970s, when "there was more respect for
"We didn't separate economic growth from the social agenda, and there
was more interest in and approval of the government supporting social
projects, so that, for example, there were government-funded community
initiatives that improved our communities and created jobs."
At the heart of what George seeks is the dignity of the individual.
"We all deserve respect, whether we're at home as a mother, cleaning
someone's yard, or working in a factory. And we all deserve a real
living wage, not a minimum wage that can't support a family."
For more information and event details visit
www.ufv.ca/plls or e-mail
© Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice