By Shaun Aquiline, Special to the Review
In 2005, I noticed my 56-year-old father was taking on a side job working with sheet metal. This was something he had gone to BCIT for in his far off past, so it was odd to see him at it 30 years later. He had a good union job as a teamster with a warehouse that sends and receives manufacturing goods from all over Canada — the very items we use here in Revelstoke to build our houses and create our homes.
I asked him why and he told me that it was for “extra golf money.” It made sense at the time, but I could see it was wearing him out. I further learned a big conglomerate wanted to buy the business he worked for, thus relieving the workers that had dedicated more than 30 years of their life to it. I realized he was concerned. Why keep him on board with his pay, pension and benefits when they could hire a younger person without all the perks?
Growing up with my working class father, I truly appreciated what he did. It wasn’t glamorous or filled with riches and fame. It was a task, a job, but it gave me the wonderful life I had. My father worked hard in the warehouse and supported my dreams. So did the others that worked there. I asked: “What would happen? What would these workers do? Who would hire someone 56 and older?”
I started to truly see the concern and harsh reality they faced.
I interviewed the workers, found out their concerns and got the inside scoop on how the company buyout was going down. A serious element of shade was behind the buyout and in the end one man stood to make a lot of money while the workers were left in the dust. One of those heroes was my father.
This became my Cinderella story. My father thought there was nothing to this storyline — he admits now he was wrong. My father’s swan song was the same as many others he worked with, and also the same as many working class people across Canada. This story became a one-man-show that was performed at the University of British Columbia, then a full length script, and finally was adapted into a 20-minute short.
After eight years of trial and error, heartache and frustration, fundraising and finding the right cast, Working Class Heroes was filmed in the winter of 2013/14 and completed in 2016. The film was accepted to the National Screen Institute of Canada and was released on Monday, Nov. 28.
This story is for my father and all the workers across Canada that have been touched by this very real situation. Although this movie is filled with heart and soul, it is a scary story. Sometimes the biggest scare in life is the element of losing everything you have, everything you worked for, and losing yourself in the process. We say what we do does not define who we are. For some that is true, for others that is all they know.
Working Class Heroes is for the workers, for those that know this story all too well. The real workers of Canada, the real working class heroes…
…Something to be.
The 20-minute short can be viewed at www.nsi-canada.ca/2016/11/working-class-heroes/