Work Life: Paul Moist Honoured for Lifetime Contribution to Social Justice

November 10, 2021

Paul Moist is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Errol Black Award, presented to him by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba and the Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues on November 7, 2021, before a crowd of more than 300 people at Winnipeg’s Fairmont Hotel. The Award is “in recognition of a lifetime of dedication to improving the lives of working people.” 

For over 30 years, Paul has worked full-time in the trade union movement, almost all of those years in elected leadership positions. He was President of CUPE Local 500 from 1993 to 2003; President of CUPE Manitoba from 1997 to 2003; an Executive Member of the Manitoba Federation of Labour from 1983 to 2003; and National President of CUPE, Canada’s largest union, from 2003 to 2015. 

Through all those years and since, Paul has been a relentless and effective promoter of trade union values, and of the interests of working people. 

He has always believed in the importance of trade unions working closely with other progressive social movements. A wonderful local example was Paul’s and CUPE’s—and other local unions’—crucial support of Cho!ces in the early-mid 1990s here in Winnipeg. In particular, CUPE seconded last year’s recipient of the Errol Black Award, Shirley Lord, to work with Cho!ces, and her organizing capacities were crucial to the success of that remarkable organization. As President of CUPE National, Paul worked closely with the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Health Coalition, various environmental organizations and of course, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. 

In 2015 Paul retired as President of CUPE National. However, he has continued to contribute in multiple ways to progressive causes. 

For example, within a week or two of retirement he had become a hard-working member of the CCPA-Mb Steering Committee, and Chair of CCPA-Mb’s Errol Black Committee. Over a five year period Paul made a major contribution to the work of both. 

He played a key role on the committee that organized the wonderful 100th year anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. In fact, Paul is an expert on the  history of the 1919 General Strike, and he continues to educate on the subject by means of public talks and his innovative Brookside tours.

Paul has recently spent long hours being interviewed by the University of Winnipeg’s Oral History Project, and in putting his papers in order to be archived. This is in keeping with his interest in the importance of labour history. Hopefully, this work will lead to a book by Paul about his experiences in the labour movement, which would be an important contribution to Manitoba’s and Canada’s labour history. 

Paul has been a mentor to many trade union and political leaders, including Bea Bruske, keynote speaker at the 2021 Errol Black Award Ceremony and now President of the Canadian Labour Congress, as well as, among others, Councillor for his ward Cindy Gilroy and Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, Leah Gazan. 

Paul has repeatedly presented to Legislative Committees on behalf of CCPA-Mb, most recently in opposition to many of the Conservative government’s draconian, anti-labour bills.

He has written countless excellent articles, for CCPA-Mb and for The Leaf, his local neighbourhood paper.  

Paul has served on many community boards during his working life. These include the Manitoba Blue Cross, the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation, the Law Society of Manitoba and the Premier’s Economic Advisory Committee. Since 2016 he has served as a Worker Representative on the Canada Industrial Relations Board. 

Among his many previous awards are the Manitoba NDP’s Stanley Knowles Solidarity Award in 2005; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012; the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Arts Celebrated Alumni Award in 2015; the Public Policy Forum’s Peter Lougheed Award for Leadership in Public Policy in 2015; and the Jack Rodie Award for CUPE Member of the Year in 2016. 

To that remarkable list we now add the Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues Honouree in 2021. 

In everything that Paul has taken on over a four decade career in the labour movement, he has placed  the interests of workers at the forefront of his thinking and his actions. 

It is difficult to imagine a more worthy recipient of the Errol Black Award than Paul Moist, honoured this year “in recognition of a lifetime of dedication to improving the lives of working people.”  



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