Interviewed by Ken Novakowski
In this 2023 conversation, Colleen Fuller talks about growing up in a politically active family and her life of political and labour activism. She was born in the United States to parents active in the Communist Party and the labour movement. Blacklisted in the U.S., they moved to B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. Colleen recalls the racist attitudes toward Indigenous people.
She talks about her early work experiences on a freighter and the fight for the rights of women working on the ship. She was involved with the Labour History Association and helped make a well-regarded film about the Depression.
Colleen got to know several leaders of the Communist Party who were jailed at the start of the Second World War because of their opposition to the war following the 1939 Hitler–Stalin pact and the partition of Poland.
She was involved in the 1983 Solidarity movement protesting anti-union and regressive austerity legislation by the B.C. Social Credit government and helped organize an occupation of the premier’s office.
Colleen worked for the Health Sciences Association fighting health care cuts and possible impacts of the North American Free Trade Agreement that would undermine Canada’s health care system. Fuller also wrote a book, Caring for Profit, on the health care system for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. She recalled her own health problems caused by synthetic insulin that led her to fight for the right of the public to contribute to Health Canada’s adverse drug reaction database.
She also reflects on her life of struggle and on the labour movement’s relationship with the NDP and her belief that the party needs labour more than labour needs the NDP.
United Electrical Workers (UE); Communist Party; Blacklisting; Sunshine Coast; Sechelt; Racism; Hospital Employees Union (HEU); Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Transport and General Workers Union (CBRT); Northland Prince ; Canadian Seamen’s Union; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); International Development Education Resource Association (IDERA); B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF); Labour History Association; National Film Board; Boag Foundation; For Twenty Cents a Day (film); Dangerous Patriots (film); C.S. Jackson; Provincial Council of Carpenters ; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); One Big Union (OBU); Solidarity Coalition; Geoff Meggs; Health Sciences Association (HSA); NAFTA; Caring for Profit (book); Diabetes; Insulin; CBC Marketplace; Adverse drug reactions; Pharma Watch; B.C. Health Coalition; REACH Community Health Centre