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Chandra-Li Paul, Local 411

Chandra-Li Paul

My name is Chandra-Li Paul, but my family and friends call me Chani (pronounced “Shaw-nee”). I am pleased to say that I am a founding member of IATSE Local 411 and have been a member in continuous good standing since the Local’s inception in October 1998.

As a member, I worked under our collective agreement on numerous film and television productions as a Production Coordinator, Assistant Production Coordinator and Production Secretary and have been active within the union by participating on most of the Local's committees, volunteering as teller for contract ratifications, acting as Sergeant-At-Arms at our membership meetings and marching in annual Labour Day and Pride Parades. I also served as Local 411's Vice President from January 2010 to January 2013 and this coming June will mark my 10th year as the Local's Operations Manager.

I have the privilege of representing IATSE Local 411 on the Ontario Federation of Labour's Solidarity & Pride committee and recently have been bestowed the honour of being appointed as the IATSE Representative to the Canadian Labour Congress's Solidarity and Pride Committee.

I am a proud IATSE member and feel very strongly that the union is only as effective as members make it, so I participate in it as much as I can.

Activism has always been a part of who I am. In elementary and high school I commonly stood up for the those \ being bullied, harassed or discriminated against. I won’t tolerate most ‘isms’. Especially racism. When someone is referring to another person in a negative tone and says to me something like, “What race are they anyway?” My response is always,“Human!” 

In college I worked for the Downtown Churchworker’s Association AIDS Action Force as an AIDS Educator and Public Relations Rep. I also volunteered for 'From All Walks of Life' Toronto’s Walk for AIDS as a Campaign Volunteer and Team Captain. Upon graduating from Seneca College, college officials asked me to take on the role of Inaugural President of the Seneca College Gay, Lesbian and Bi-Sexual Student Association which I did for its initial year.

I have donated some of my personally created artwork to fundraising events raising money for AIDS and Breast Cancer research and recently volunteered my time to build a new website for the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition in preparation for some of their upcoming awareness and fundraising initiatives - I'm an animal lover, especially cats.

I enjoy being an activist and advocating for positive change and discussing the challenges that unions and various equity groups face. I take pleasure in exchanging experiences with and gaining inspiration from other activists and forging new alliances.

I am a proud advocate for human rights and freedoms and am committed to fighting against discrimination and bullying in workplaces and in our communities.

Sitting on the OFL and CLC committees provides me a unique opportunity for dialogue on LGBTQ/Human Rights issues as well as an opportunity to increase the visibility of the IATSE in social justice environments. The fight for LGBTQ rights, increased understanding of LGBTQ issues, advancement of LGBTQ visibility and continued work toward legislative equality for LGBTQ workers and union members is an endeavour that needs the support of organizations like the IATSE, and I'm proud to be part of that support system.

Organizational and cultural change comes from creating safe spaces in which to question our values, build empathy and share experiences. It comes from stepping up and speaking out about the issues that we care about. 

Each and everyone one of us can be activists and effect positive change, from small matters to major issues. In the union, in the workplace, in the community, even in our own families. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, it's what you do that counts. If you believe you have the power to make a difference – you can! The power of one is strong when added to the sum of individuals using the tools of democracy to campaign for political and social change.

If you want to make the world a better place, you need to be an active participant in shaping the fair and just future you desire. Say it with me now... Solidarity and Fairness for ALL!