Fonds 13 - Union of Northern Workers fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Union of Northern Workers fonds

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  • Multiple media

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1970-1994 (Creation)
    Union of Northern Workers

Physical description area

Physical description

3.5 m of textual records and other material

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Administrative history

With the adoption of Yellowknife as the capital for the Northwest Territories in 1967, a Territorial Civil Service was established. Commissioner Stuart Hodgson and Assistant Commissioner John Parker were responsible for settling labour disputes and addressing employee concerns. Due to their frequent trips to Ottawa, disputes were not settled in a timely manner. Consequently, a number of territorial civil servants decided to organize a union. Keith McGinnis and Harold Franklin, both of whom worked for Corrections, launched a campaign to have a northern union created. Between 1968 and 1969, they began the distribution of union cards to civil servants throughout the Northwest Territories. In 1969, the head of the Public Service Alliance of Canada met with Commissioner Stuart Hodgson to discuss the formation of a northern union. With the consent of Commissioner Hodgson, a founding convention was held in Yellowknife in 1970. At that time, an executive was appointed: Keith McGinnis became the first president, Harold Franklin the first Vice-President and Marge Porter was elected as the first Secretary-Treasurer. After the convention, amendments were made to the Public Service Ordinance. The ordinance empowered the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories to establish and regulate a bargaining association for territorial civil servants, to establish the Northwest Territories Public Service Association (NWTPSA) and to recognize the association as the only bargaining agent for territorial employees. In 1988, the name of the union was officially changed to the Union of Northern Workers.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of 180 black and white and colour negatives, 30 videocassettes (VHS), 1 Beta cassette recording, 102 audio cassettes, 8 audio reels and 3.5 metres of textual records generated by the Northwest Territories Public Service Association (NWTPSA) and the Union of Norther Workers (UNW) between 1970 and 1994. The records have been arranged into four series: textual records, photographs, sound recordings and moving images. The textual records were then organized into six sub-series: Minutes of Full Executive Meetings, Minutes of the Triennial Conventions, Minutes of Meetings of NWTPSA and UWN Locals, Newsletters, Collective Agreements and UNW Filing System. The textual records document the development of the union movement in the Northwest Territories and the increasing politicization of the union's membership. They also document the internal administration and operations of the NWTPSA and the UNW, and their relationship to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). The records also depict the relationship between the NWTPSA, UNW and the Northwest Territories Federation of Labour (NWTFLA). The textual records contain information on convention procedures, elections, the collection of union dues, revisions to By-Laws and Policies, and the transfer of federal employees to the territorial government. The sound and video recordings were made at the Triennial Conventions and the Full Executive Meetings. The photographs were taken at the Triennial Conventions, Full Executive Meetings, and at individual members' work-sites. In addition, there are images of such political action campaigns as the annual Day of Mourning ceremonies, marches in support of striking workers at the Inuvik Housing Authority, Royal Oak Mines Limited, the federal government and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

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Physical condition


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      Location of originals

      Availability of other formats

      Restrictions on access

      No restrictions to access, however, researchers must sign a legally binding agreement to the effect that all references to individual member will be kept confidential until the year 2014. See accession file for details.

      Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

      Finding aids

      Finding aid available.

      Associated materials

      The original NWTPSA sign which was outside the first union hall is housed in the Collections area of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

      Related materials


      Physical description

      This fonds includes: 3.5 m of textual material; 180 negatives: b&w & col.; 102 audio cassettes; 31 videocassettes: VHS, Beta; and 8 audio reels.


      UNW retains copyright.

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