WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners


Category: Immigrant Leadership; Skills and Supports

Amount: C$300,000

Term: Dec. 2020 - Nov. 2022  

Focus: Through worker-led initiatives, storytelling, and advocacy, ActionDignity addresses health, safety, and other concerns of racialized meatpacking workers.

About ActionDignity

ActionDignity amplifies the collective voice of Calgary’s ethnocultural communities and works to achieve their full civic participation and socioeconomic integration. A community-based organization, ActionDignity develops leadership and organizational capacity in Calgary’s ethnocultural communities, equipping and empowering them and expanding their role. ActionDignity’s systems and policy-level change produces advocacy tools that support anti-racist newcomer integration.

What type of work will the grant enable?

ActionDignity is partnering with four ethnocultural communities in Calgary to develop leadership capacity and organize racialized meatpacking sector workers, specifically at the Cargill and JBS plants. Many of the workers at these plants are refugees, newcomers, low-wage earners, or Temporary Foreign Workers who face difficulties navigating the system because of English language constraints and the lack of self-advocacy skills. ActionDignity’s project has three main objectives:

  • To create systems and policy change by analyzing the causes of the COVID-19 outbreaks at the meatpacking plants and press for change
  • To empower workers at the two plants through community-led initiatives, representation, capacity-building, and collaborative action
  • To raise public awareness—with the goal of shifting workplace practices—of the vulnerabilities and experiences of essential workers affected by COVID-19

Why is this work important?

Immigrants and refugees face inequities and barriers to safe and decent work. Many of these issues have long existed in the meatpacking sector, yet COVID-19 has made working conditions worse. ActionDignity’s project has the potential to reduce risk in the workplace and drive change to create more opportunities for decent work. As a result, workers will have increased access to information about their rights, more knowledge, better communication skills, and greater capacity to self-advocate. Workers will also be in a better position to defend their rights through improved organizing and representation.