Former president of Sask. Federation of Labour to receive Order of Canada
Barbara Byers was also the first female president of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union
Since 2002, Barbara Byers has been in Ottawa with the Canadian Labour Congress but many people in Saskatchewan will remember her for the contributions she made to the province's labour movement.
Now, the former president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour will receive the Order of Canada.
"I am thrilled," Byers said. "It's a validation of not just the work I've done but the work that people do all the time in the labour movement and in the broader social movement as well."
Byers was one of 69 Canadians named as a member of the order, one of the country's highest civilian honours. She is being recognized for her contributions as an important voice in the Canadian labour movement.
I never intended to leave Saskatchewan, it broke my heart to leave but I'm coming home.- Barbara Byers, former president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Byers got her start as a social worker in Saskatchewan. She was the first female president of the Saskatchewan Government Employees' Union, and was the first woman elected as president of any provincial employees' union in Canada.
"At the time I didn't see myself [as a ground breaker]. I realize it now," she said.
Later, Byers was the President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and in 2002 she was elected Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress. In 2014, she was elected Secretary-Treasurer.
With many important titles, Byers said one of the things she is very proud of is founding the SFL Summer Camp for Youth in Saskatchewan in 1989, in which she still participates.
Although work has brought her to Ottawa, Byers said Saskatchewan will always be her home.
"I'm coming home. When I retire from the Congress… I will come home. I never intended to leave Saskatchewan, it broke my heart to leave but I'm coming home," she said, adding her work here isn't done yet.
"I've got a long list of to-dos when I come home."