Teaching Tool: An Introduction to Labour
By Renee Allen
Renee Allen is a multi-hyphenate Jamaican-born, Toronto-based, writer-educator, with a passion for working with children and youth. She is deeply committed to work that interrogates and addresses interlocking systems of oppression. Her writing appears in Zora, THIS magazine and PREE. Renee is also a recent graduate of the Masters of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with a book collection that keeps outgrowing her bookcase.
In this introductory activity, we explore “What is Labour”. This teaching tool helps define labour in Canada by examining labour movements, the impact of their momentum, and their legacy today. Create your own working definition through word associations and context tools!
Overarching Question/Two-eyed Seeing Connection:
What does it mean to produce labour collectively?
Explore community perspectives on labour by connecting with a range of contributors (Elders,
parents, union representatives, activists, teachers, working people, etc.) through various media
(written word, video, podcast, art, slideshow etc.).
Invite students to discuss the concept of collective labour and how collective efforts of workers
contribute to accomplishing a shared goal. Explore how definitions differ based on individual
perspectives and life experiences.
Potential Entry Point:
In Toronto, The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and
Haudenosaunee to act as stewards over the land. Over time, other Indigenous Peoples, settlers
and newcomers have been invited to this shared commitment. How can each person, who is a
part of this treaty, produce labour communally, to protect and nurture the land?
After students have conceptualized communal labour as a class, they will extend invitations to
community members to share their perspectives through multimedia such as podcasts, videos,
Google Slides etc . Each student’s contributions will be compiled to create a larger class project.
Collaborate with students to identify potential community members they can connect with (e.g.
Elders, parents, union representatives, activists, teachers).
Criteria for multimedia community contributors might include:
- Encompasses a variety of professional roles;
- Provides perspectives on labour outside capitalism;
- Contributes meaningfully to the community through labour;
- Collaborates with a various community stakeholders;
- Works closely with various diverse communities.