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Art is an impor­tant tool in shap­ing ideas, orga­niz­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing to world. The life and songs of Woody Guthrie are famous in this regard. Bertolt Brecht the Ger­man drama­tist summed it up this way: Art is not a mir­ror held up to real­i­ty, but a ham­mer with which to shape it”.

The Win­nipeg May­Works Fes­ti­val began in 1994 at the time of the 75th Anniver­sary of the Win­nipeg Gen­er­al Strike. It was an ini­tia­tive of union and oth­er activists with the aim of explor­ing the lives of work­ing peo­ple, their strug­gles both past and present and their future aspirations.

Oth­er May­Works fes­ti­vals occur in Cana­da and labour arts fes­ti­vals exist in many coun­tries. All serve the impor­tant role of pre­serv­ing and devel­op­ing work­ing class cul­ture. We are proud to say that our May­Works Fes­ti­val is part of this effort.

The Win­nipeg Gen­er­al Strike was about work­ing peo­ple unit­ing against the con­di­tions imposed on them by a social and eco­nom­ic elite, backed by the author­i­ty of gov­ern­ment and the rule of law.

It is a his­to­ry that is fresh and rel­e­vant to the present day because the same strug­gle and social divi­sions are still with us: unions can­not deter­mine how they will bar­gain with the employ­ers, new immi­grants face the same prej­u­dices and hos­til­i­ties, the gap between rich and poor has grown and social inequal­i­ty remains.

There are some new twists to the old strug­gle. Social pro­tec­tions such as pen­sions and social pro­grams long con­sid­ered mile­stone achieve­ments of a car­ing” soci­ety are now described as enti­tle­ments” and lega­cies” to make it eas­i­er to cut and slash them in the name of fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty. The envi­ron­ment, sus­tain­abil­i­ty and food secu­ri­ty are at the mer­cy of the bot­tom line.

The Win­nipeg Gen­er­al Strike is a part of our his­to­ry that should be remem­bered because of what those brave work­ers to fight injus­tice. It should be remem­bered because his­to­ry has lessons for the present. The wealth of events mark­ing the 100th anniver­sary of the Gen­er­al Strike is tes­ti­mo­ny to its lega­cy and importance.

We owe a lot to the many who have kept this his­to­ry alive, added new sto­ries and under­stand­ings to our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness about the strike.

We also ask you to con­sid­er sup­port­ing the Fes­ti­val by fol­low­ing us on Face­book, vol­un­teer­ing for May­Works events and con­tribut­ing finan­cial­ly to help us build the Fes­ti­val.

You can view the full pro­gram of May­Works 2019 events here!