This fond consists mainly of working documents such as correspondence and financial papers, predominantly from the late 1940s to the 1970s. The documents deals with the advocacy activities of the JLC such as bringing refugees over to Montreal and later raising money to aid Pakistani refugees. Hig…
This fond consists mainly of working documents such as correspondence and financial papers, predominantly from the late 1940s to the 1970s. The documents deals with the advocacy activities of the JLC such as bringing refugees over to Montreal and later raising money to aid Pakistani refugees. Highlights of the fonds include correspondence between David Lewis, then secretary of the CCF, his father Moishe Lewis, and Kalman Kaplansky, both labour leaders in Montreal’s Workmen’s Circle and JLC.
In 1934, leaders in the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the Workmen’s Circle, the Jewish Daily Forward Association, the Jewish Socialist Verband and others gathered in New York’s lower east side to form the Jewish Labor Committee. The formation of the JLC was in response to the ever-growing threat of fascism in Europe. The group publicly campaigned to raise awareness of the plight of European Jewry, raised funds for partisan fighters, brought over thousands of political and cultural leaders – both Jews and non-Jews, and immediately after the war assisted in relief efforts and provided support in bringing over refugees. Jewish Labour Committees both in the United States and Canada extended their wartime work in the 1950s by campaigning against discrimination among workers as well as human rights activism on a global scale. In Montreal, the Jewish Labour Committee actively participated in pressuring the government to adopt human rights legislation at the provincial level.
In 1947, the Canadian government selected two members of the JLC, Bernard Shane and Maurice Silcoff, to travel to Europe to select skilled immigrants as refugees. Both men were temporarily named colonels of the Canadian army so that they could travel more easily across war ravaged Europe. The task of bringing over skilled garment workers to Canada was no mean feat but the efforts had far reaching implications since workers were then able to bring over family members. The Jewish Labor Committee of Canada Bulletin for 1975, on reporting the death of Bernard Shane, placed the number of families brought to Canada through the work of the JLC at over 2,000.