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May Day 2010: Events in solidarity with workers

March for Status for All -- No One is Illegal

In over 80 countries May Day, or International Worker's Day is an official holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world. Organizers in cities across Canada have planned events that we've compiled for our readers below. Click on the links for more info.

But first...here's a brief look back at how it all started:

May Day began in the U.S. as a response to the abuse of state power -- as an international act of solidarity and camaraderie amongst working people everywhere.

On May 1, 1886, workers across North America participated in a general strike to demand recognition of the eight-hour workday. In Chicago, demonstrators also took up the cause of workers at a local farm equipment factory who had been locked out for participating in union activities. In the following days, a number of demonstrators and police officers were killed in what came to be known as the Haymarket Affair. The circumstances surrounding the Haymarket Affair led to international outrage. In 1894, May 1 became the official commemorative holiday for workers across North America.

For many Canadians May Day suffers from relative anonymity when compared with Labour Day. Nevertheless, working people in Canada continued the struggle to have May Day recognized as an official holiday. Coal miners in Cape Breton, forestry workers in Alberta and textile workers in Toronto used May Day as an opportunity to advance the cause of workers.

In 1919, May Day strikes in Winnipeg sparked the beginning of the Winnipeg General Strike.

On May Day 1935, 15,000 unemployed workers in B.C. marched and rode-the-rails "On-to-Ottawa Trek" to protest the use of work camps that were undermining the labour market.

The power of May Day lies in the one-day strike to show the solidarity and strength of workers. In that tradition, here's a list of May Day events taking place across the country:

Vancouver

- Worker Control Not Border Control - May 1, 2010 7:30 p.m.

Edmonton

- May Day March - May 1, 2010 4 p.m.

Winnipeg

- Mayworks Festival of Labour and the Arts - May 1-30, 2010

Toronto

- Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts - May 1-30, 2010

- No One Is Illegal - March For Status For All - May 1, 2010 1 p.m.

- Toronto's 24th Annual Socialist May Day Celebration - May 1, 2010 7 p.m.

Kingston

- Mayworks Festival of Labour and the Arts - May 1-9, 2010

Ottawa

- Organizing For Justice May Day Weekend - May 1-2, 2010

Montreal

- May 1st Anti-Capitalist Demonstration - May 1, 2010 4 p.m.

Halifax

- Mayworks Halifax Cultural Festival - May 1-8, 2010

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