CAW and Otesha Project Launch Cliff Pilkey Changemaker Bursary

May 6, 2013, 10:00 AM EST

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The Canadian Auto Workers union, in partnership with the Otesha Project, has officially launched a new $25,000 bursary program in honour of late CAW union leader Cliff Pilkey at the union's national Young Workers conference today.

The bursary will provide financial assistance to young Canadians participating in the Otesha Project's innovative cycling and performing tours. Otesha tours travel to different communities in Canada to put on theatre presentations and facilitate interactive workshops on a range of social justice topics, including community sustainability and equality. The tours inspire greater engagement in civic life among the volunteer tour members, and audience members alike.

"The Otesha Project's ambitions are closely aligned with what Cliff Pilkey fought for in his decades as a union activist, civic leader and parliamentarian," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "We're proud to continue Cliff's life-long work for social equality and solidarity through this bursary, and celebrate his legacy at the same time."

Clifford George (Cliff) Pilkey is a renowned figure in Canada's labour movement. As past president of CAW Local 222 in Oshawa, Ontario, founder of the Workers Health & Safety Centre and past president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Cliff tirelessly championed the rights of workers, including women's rights, social equity and human rights both inside the union movement and society more broadly.

Cliff lead province-wide campaigns for pay equity and child care in Ontario. And in 1978, as a Member of Provincial Parliament, Cliff helped win the passage of Bill 70, Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"Cliff's long list of accomplishments exemplifies the term 'Changemaker'," said Kayla Siefried, The Otesha Project's Programs Coordinator. "Otesha's bicycle tour program cultivates the development of young 'Changemakers.' It's exciting that Cliff Pilkey's story will be shared through this bursary, and that Otesha's programs will be more accessible to youth who may otherwise have difficulties fundraising to participate in one of Otesha's cycling tours."

The Otesha Project is a national youth-led charitable organization that has connected with over 163 000 Canadians through creative and energizing performances, workshops, and keynote presentations, and trained over 500 sustainability advocates through its cycling tour program.

Releasing the bursary at the union's Young Workers conference is a fitting tribute to Cliff, who began his union career as a young worker on the assembly line at General Motors. The biennial conference brings together CAW members (under the age of 35) and young local union leaders from across the country to discuss issues and challenges impacting young workers. It runs until May 5 at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

More information on how to apply for the Cliff Pilkey Changemaker Bursary as well as upcoming Otesha Project tours is available at:

About: The Otesha Project is a national youth-led charitable organization that uses experiential learning, theatre and bicycle tours to engage and empower Canadians of all ages to take action for a more equitable and sustainable world.

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