Toronto – August 27, 2018 – UFCW Canada activists join generations of working families across the country in celebrating the life of Bromley Armstrong, an outstanding trade unionist and civil rights leader who blazed a trail for the advancement of many important social justice issues. Brother Armstrong passed on August 17 in Toronto.
Born in Jamaica in 1926, Dr. Armstrong came to Canada in 1947 and almost immediately began his seven decades of work in support of equity for people experiencing discrimination.
One of his most notable efforts was his involvement in the “Dresden story.” Dresden, Ontario, a small town famous as the terminus of the Underground Railroad for people who escaped enslavement in the United States, had a population that was nearly 20 percent Black by the middle of the twentieth century.
Despite this, many local restaurants and barbershops refused to serve people considered non-white.
In 1954, Dr. Armstrong joined other activists and labour leaders to participate in “sit-ins” in Dresden establishments to “test” their compliance with the law. These sit-ins and the resultant media attention helped propel the establishment of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1991.
Armstrong also “tested” landlords, restaurants, and clubs to see whether they complied with legislation that prohibited discrimination. By doing so, he and others were able to help end discriminatory practices within many public establishments.
“Brother Armstrong demonstrated a lifelong commitment to advancing the fight for greater racial equality and inclusion, and today our workplaces, communities, and movement are all stronger because of his efforts,” says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema.
For more on Bromley Armstrong’s contribution and outstanding legacy to the social justice movement in Canada, please be sure to visit the Black History Month timeline.