On the Line: Stories of BC Workers

Episode 8: Uniting Woodworkers Across Ethnic Divides

May 24, 2021 BC Labour Heritage Centre Season 1 Episode 8
On the Line: Stories of BC Workers
Episode 8: Uniting Woodworkers Across Ethnic Divides
Show Notes

May is Asian Heritage Month; last month was Sikh Heritage Month. Both groups are justly celebrated for their contributions to the fabric of BC. At the same time, they also suffered many years of exploitation and discrimination, much of it in the workplace. For many reasons, including the racist policies of many unions, they were very hard to organize - but one union, the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), met the challenge head-on. This is the story of three remarkable Asian organizers - Roy Mah, Darshan Singh Sangha and Joe Miyazawa - specifically hired by the IWA in the midst of World War Two to break down racial barriers and bring woodworkers of all races into the union.

Learn more: https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ethnicdivides/

FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond.
 "The Greenhorn Song" & "Way Up the Ucletaw"  performed by Jon Bartlett/Rika Ruebsaat from The Young Man in Canada (2008) From the singing of Ed Dalby, Campbell River, 1959, with the first stanza by Phil Thomas. Ucletaw is the Yuculta Rapids, up the coast from Vancouver. Loggers supplied their own blankets. Pitchbacks are Douglas fir, so called because the bottom of the tree collects pitch. The early loggers stood on springboards, often several meters above the ground, so they could chop above the pitch. The song is preceded by the sounds of a two-man saw at work and shouts of timber! and down the hill! drawn from Robert Swanson's aural archives.  More information can be found below or at www.jonandrika.org
 "The Greenchain Song" from Now It's Called Princeton (2008) performed by Rika Ruebsaat.

INTERVIEWS: Clips from Roy Mah interview by Paul Yee, Feb. 26, 1987. City of Vancouver Archives AM1523-S3-: 2008-010.4287
Clip in Punjabi of Darshan Singh Sangha interview by Dr. Hari Sharma, March 11 ,1985. Part of The Indo-Canadian Oral History Collection, Simon Fraser University Archives. F-77-1-0-0-0-18
Clips of interviews with Harinder Mahil & Dilbagh Johal. Part of a series of Co-op radio reel-to-reel tapes, produced by the Boag Foundation, donated to the BC Labour Heritage Centre in 2019 by Allen Seager.
Clips from Joe Miyazawa interview conducted by the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre, 1994. Part of the Japanese Canadian Oral History Collection, Simon Fraser University Archives.  1994.80.10 (PART 1)

RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Bailey Garden & Rod Mickleburgh.
Andrew Neufeld and Andrew Parnaby. (2000). The IWA in Canada : the life and times of an industrial union. Vancouver : IWA Canada/New Star Books.
Harjit Daudharia, ed. (2004). Darshan. Darshan Singh Sangha ‘Canadian’ Heritage Foundation.
Rod Mickleburgh. (2018) On the Line: A History of the BC Labour Movement. BC Labour Heritage Society, Harbour Publishing.
 “Interview with Harold Pritchett, Founding President of the International Woodworkers of America” by John Mountain, Digging into History, 2.8 (August, 2020)