This course outlines the development of Canada as an industrial society with a focus on the people whose work built our nation-state. It traces the history of class conflicts and efforts by working people to be treated with dignity, including the creation of unions and political parties to defend their interests. The course critically examines how the work force became stratified along gender and race lines and how women, Indigenous people, and racialized workers have fought to end their exclusion from various forms of work and to increase pay and benefits in those areas of work that have been gendered and/or raced. As president of the Alberta Labour History Institute, Alvin will make rich use of materials on their website: interviews, videos, booklets, and photos that trace workers’ history in Alberta, although the course will have a Canada-wide focus.
Alvin Finkel is one of Canada’s leading historians, the co-author of textbooks that have sold over 160,000 copies as well as monographs, book chapters, and articles that focus on many areas of Canadian history with an emphasis on labour history and the history of social policy. He taught history at Athabasca University for 36 years where he was the first historian to be hired. His latest book is Compassion: A Global History of Social Policy, the first effort to tell the history of the development of welfare states from a global perspective.