New Documentary Video: 1919: The Great Labour Revolt

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An international uprising of workers followed World War I. The best known Canadian manifestation was the Winnipeg General Strike. Less known is that Alberta workers joined the 1919 uprising against capitalist exploitation and economic instability with two general strikes (Edmonton and Calgary) and a shutdown of the province’s large coal-mining sector. This video uses the workers’ words to tell the story of why they chose to revolt and call for a different power structure in which workers’ needs would outweigh capitalists’ unlimited demands for profits. We hear from miners, telephone operators, packinghouse workers, nurses, housewives, and organizers of restaurant workers, among others, about what life was like for working people and how they envisioned taking matters into their own hands to change everything. The voices you hear in this video are voices of both professional actors and amateurs knowledgable about the communities they are representing. But the words are the documented statements of workers of 1919. The workers in the video are composite characters whose words come from testimonies before such organizations as the Mathers Commission, a federal royal commission in 1919 established to study the causes of worker unrest in Canada.