“Being a steward for the union gives me the opportunity to be brave and bold and to stand up for others’ rights,” said Sheela, who works at Unifirst Canada Mississauga.
As a steward, Sheela draws from her experience as a new immigrant years ago when she first came to Canada and faced language barriers.
"I noticed a lot of my co-workers were not able to bring forth their issues because of the language barrier, and I've decided to step forth and help those in need,” she said. “My neighbours helped me out when I was new to Canada and I was just learning the language so I want to do the same.”
Whether it is through translation, or utilizing gestures, Sheela works tirelessly to break down language barriers and ensure workers understand important information.
She helps her co-workers with a wide range of issues, from issues with pay stubs, safety precautions (as related to COVID-19) and worker-management relations.
As a union steward, she is proud of the difference her union makes.
"The reason I became a steward is to help the people facing hardship at work,” she said. “Our union acts as a bold voice for each and every worker whose problems have never been heard.”
Since becoming an activist, Sheela has participated in several union initiatives, including theHealth and Safety seminars and Pride events in her community.
“I’m proud to be a 1006A steward.”
Union Rep Diana O’Brien said she can always depend on Sheela.
“She always goes above and beyond as a steward,” O’Brien said.