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Rod Mickleburgh Wins The George Ryga Award for Social Awareness

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 12:43pm

Rod Mickleburgh has won The George Ryga Award for Social Awareness for his book, On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement (Harbour $44.95). The award will be presented in Victoria—at 1 pm on Saturday, April 27th—at the sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay Library branch, 385 Menzies Street.

The City of Vancouver will simultaneously honour Rod Mickleburgh with its proclamation of Author Appreciation Day.

Mickleburgh, formerly a labour reporter for both the Vancouver Sun and Province and a senior writer for The Globe and Mail, has documented the broad historical sweep of what has been Canada’s most volatile and progressive provincial labour force, re-educating British Columbians to why unions are essential for a progressive society.

The story begins back in 1849 when Scottish labourers went on strike to protest barbaric working conditions at B.C.’s first coal mine at Fort Rupert on Vancouver Island.

Mickleburgh’s On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement revisits most of the major labour struggles since then. Mickleburgh’s account of how unionists achieved the five-day work week, the eight-hour day, paid holidays, the right to a safe, non-discriminatory workplace and many more now-taken-for-granted features rights continues into the second decade of the 21st century to recount the successful campaign led by the B.C. Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) to improve classroom conditions and class sizes.

During his long career, Rod Mickleburgh has worked for the Penticton Herald, Prince George Citizen, Vernon News and CBC TV, in addition to the Sun, Province and Globe and Mail. In 1992 he was nominated for a National Newspaper Award; in 1993, he was a co-winner, with André Picard, of the Michener Award.

Mickleburgh’s first book was Rare Courage: Veterans of the Second World War Remember (M&S 2005), a collection of 20 memoirs profiling Canadian veterans of World War II (with Rudyard Griffiths, executive director of the Dominion Institute) and he earned the 2013 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize for (Harbour 2012), co-authored with Geoff Meggs.

The two runners-up for the Ryga Prize this year are Chelene Knight for her second book, Dear Current Occupant (Book Thug) and Sarah Cox for Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (On Point Press).

Files from ABC Bookworld.