The Injured Workers Speakers School (IWSS) offers a multi-session course to help injured workers know their rights, advocate for themselves and speak confidently about workers’ compensation issues from experience and knowledge. Injured workers can:
- understand the history and principles of our compensation system
- develop analysis to support your experience
- learn about the injured workers movement and the importance of active participation
- feel more comfortable speaking in public, with media and with politicians
- have fun while learning in a supportive group with other injured workers
The school started up in 2007 when two ongoing successful programs combined with the support of the Research Action Alliance on the Consequences of Work Injury (RAACWI). In Thunder Bay, activist Steve Mantis had created the Injured Workers Speakers Bureau in 2006, using the Toastmasters model, to develop public speaking skills. And in Toronto, Injured Workers’ Consultants was running courses on the principles and politics of compensation and injured worker history, promoting leadership and community organizing skills. The new joint program, now named the Injured Worker Speaker School, began in Toronto but groups around the province soon set up their own.
There are now schools in Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Sarnia, St Catharines, Muskoka, Niagara – and the list is growing. In the January 2015 issue of “Justice for Injured Workers”, two participants in the Niagara & District Injured Workers’ Speakers School share what they’ve gained from the sessions.
Telling our own story
- New Directions Speakers’ School. Thunder Bay (website)
- Vigil, Oscar. 2012. “Injured Workers Speakers School: From Pain to Protest”. Our Times, v. 31(2): 33-39
- Aversa, Terri. 2011. WSIB: The Big Ship – At the 2011 Toronto IWSS celebration of their graduation, six injured workers movingly recount their compelling stories of workplace injury and dealing with the Board. Local MPP Michael Prue, who attended the evening, also made a tribute in the Legislative Assembly to the School.