December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities—which aims to promote awareness and mobilize support for disability rights issues. On this day, the CLC recognizes a union member for their disability rights activism.
This year, on the eleventh anniversary of the award, the Canadian Labour Congress is pleased to announce CUPE Local 1294 activist Sylvain Le May as the 2022 winner of the Carol McGregor CLC Disability Rights Award!
Sylvain is a union activist with over 17 years of expertise in advocating for disability rights in the post-secondary education sector in Quebec. From 2005 until 2021, he led efforts at his workplace, the University of Quebec à Montréal, to ensure the highest level of accessibility for students and workers with disabilities on campus, including leadership on several committees and working groups tasked with identifying barriers on campus and leading remediation efforts. An example of the lasting impact of Sylvain’s leadership in this work is the creation of the “Le May Code” on campus, in honour of Sylvain’s support of the building services department in constantly updating and retrofitting the building code on campus in order to ensure the highest standard for accessibility for all who visit, work and learn on campus.
The time and dedication Sylvain has given to Canada’s labour movement and to spotlighting and advocating for accessibility both at the provincial and national levels have had a far-reaching impact. For example, from 2005 to 2015, Sylvain actively took part in the work of the Labour Adjustment Committee (LAC) for persons with disabilities, which works in cooperation with disability rights associations, the labour movement and employer organizations in Quebec. He also sat on the board of the International Network on the Disability Creation Process (INDCP) for 6 years and was the president of the AQICESH (Quebec interuniversity association of advisors to students with disabilities) for 8 years.
Sylvain’s tremendous accomplishments in the field of disability rights as an activist were also recognized in 2010 by the Office of persons with disabilities in Quebec with an honorary award assigned to the unit he coordinated at his workplace for its disability inclusion work.
Finally, Sylvain’s perspectives as a disability activist have also been enrichened by his creative approach to engaging with workers with disabilities at his workplace. He is well known for his many awareness-building activities, including videos and speeches where he connects his own personal story to the need for greater advocacy on disability rights issues, as well as his unique initiatives for engagement and community building on campus such as his ‘Teas with Sylvain’, which enabled members of his union to speak out on accessibility issues on campus, and have their stories published in their union’s provincial newsletter.
In the words of his nominator, François Laplante-Lévesque, President at CUPE Local 1924 “Our Local has decided to nominate Sylvain because he is one of those persons who change mentalities through their persistence, their constant engagement and their determination. Highly esteemed by his colleagues at all levels because he does not hesitate to speak out and always does so with passion, Sylvain spares no time to make a difference in the lives and support of the brothers and sisters who reach out to him.”