AWARE started as a group of concerned Albertans, who have for the past decade been working with individual workers facing challenges in settling and managing their precarious working conditions. By far the individuals have comprised of temporary foreign workers and newcomers to Alberta, and more recently an increasing number of undocumented or under employed workers. Seeking help from traditional organizations such as Trade Unions, immigrant support centres and government supports has not been an avenue because the workers were either not allowed to use those vehicles of support by the constraints of the funders/employers or more often because they did not feel safe to approach these resources. The question of who do you go to when you have no one is the voluntary support service we have tried to provide. Our volunteer activities include sometimes providing friendship, or financial support or linking the worker to resources, advocacy or system navigational support and most of the time all of the services.
Our loose network of individuals has slowly coalesced to develop an organization to formalize our relationship and work. This is due to the capacity issues we are facing as individuals undertaking this work as volunteers and the realization that we are beyond our individual capacity to meet the ever increasing need.
The Alberta Workers Association for Research and Education is a response to all these individual stories influenced by the changing nature of work in Alberta and globally.