Social History for Social Distancing

Nursing graduates of the Women’s College Hospital School of Nursing, including Agnes Clinton, the first Black graduate, proceed to Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto, 1951. Women’s College Hospital Archive / Toronto Star.

Like so much else, the Toronto Workers’ History Project is on hiatus as the world confronts the COVID-19 crisis.

As promoters of workers’ history and participants in workers’ movements, we are thinking a lot these days about the front-line workers tasked with fighting the pandemic head-on: nurses (like those pictured above), doctors, and other medical staff. We are also in solidarity with those essential workers whose jobs require them to continue being out in the world, at heightened risk of infection: workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, take-out restaurants and other still-open businesses, delivery persons and mail carriers, cleaners, farm workers, transit operators, drivers, airport workers, and others. It is does not escape notice that many of these essential workers are among the lowest paid and most marginalized in our society. Our thoughts and support also go out, of course, to the sick and their loved ones, in Toronto and around the world.

Those of us not in any of the above groups have likely been spending a lot more time at home recently, practicing “social distancing” to protect ourselves and our neighbours alike. 

Though the TWHP will not be meeting in person in the near future, we wanted to share with you some videos from past meetings — our modest contribution to helping people find enjoyable and enriching ways to pass the time during these unusual and trying days.

We call it, “Social History for Social Distancing.”

Enjoy!

A special thank-you to Glen Richards who filmed and edited all the below videos and who curates our YouTube channel.

Japanese Canadians: Internment and Disperal
with Joy Kogawa, Susan Aihoshi, Kim Koyama, and David Kidd
3 March 2020
Emma’s Last Visit
A production of the Toronto Workers’ Theatre Group
Written by Craig Heron, Directed by Aido Jordao
12 November 2019
Gabriel Allahdua on Migrant Farm Labour in Canada
10 October 2017
Craig Heron, “Labour on the March: 150 Years of Labour Day in Toronto”
12 September 2017

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