Interviewed by Patricia Wejr
Kristina Vandervoort was born in Stockholm, Sweden. She moved to British Columbia with her parents when she was eight and they settled in North Vancouver. After high school, Kristina started her first job at Lions Gate Hospital and that is where she first became active in her union, the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU). She served as a trustee of her local, then secretary-treasurer, and she was very active in the HEU’s 1976 strike. Following the strike, she took union leave to work in the HEU Provincial Office and eventually became an employee of HEU. She was the first person hired from the HEU membership into a non-service representative position. She held the positions of membership clerk, payroll clerk, and political action coordinator. As political action coordinator, she engaged in the major struggles of the healthcare unions and fight back efforts of the labour movement over the next few decades. This included Operation Solidarity and the attacks on healthcare through Bills 29 and Bill 37. She was a member of the B.C. Federation of Labour’s Political Action Committee and a former chair of the NDP’s Women’s Rights Committee. Kristina continued to be an activist after her retirement and, because of her efforts, genetic characteristics is now a prohibited ground of discrimination in Canada’s human rights legislation.
Keywords: Lois Reimer; Hans Brown; Clerical workers; HEU strike 1976; Sharon Yandle; Operation Solidarity; Carmela Allevato, CUPE; contracting out; Bill 29 (Health and Social Services Improvement Act); Bill 37 [Health Sector (Facilities Sub-sector) Collective Agreement Act]; B.C. Federation of Labour Political Action Committee; Glen Clark; NDP Women’s Rights Committee; Huntington’s disease; Bill Siksay; Judy Wasylycia-Leis; Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness; Adrian Dix