Mervyn Van Steinburg

Interviewed by Ken Novakowski

As a founding Board Member of BC Labour Heritage Centre, Mervyn Van Steinburg recounts his story of a worklife spent in service to BC’s unionized community. In this interview, Brother Van Steinburg recounts his union beginnings as an electrician member and officer of IBEW Local 213. Notably, Merv details his transformative involvement with Unemployment Action Centres; a labour movement sponsored initiative which emerged during the early 1980’s backdrop of recession and BC’s Solidarity movement. As a consequence of these early events, Brother Van Steinburg found himself drawn into the newly formed Labour Department of the United Way. Rising to the position of Director of the Labour Department of the United Way of the Lower Mainland, he speaks to the philosophy and development of the Union Counselling Program; an initiative which forms a part of each year’s curriculum at the CLC Pacific Region Winter School. With good humour and delightful anecdotes, Merv’s tale concludes with the creation story of the BC Labour Heritage Centre itself!

Keywords: Okanagan, IBEW 213, unemployed action centres, Kelowna, BC Labour Heritage Centre, union counselling, food banks, Operation Solidarity, United Way, Harrison Winter School

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