The Workers’ Educational Association of Canada (WEA) is a non-profit, non-partisan charity organization dedicated to lifelong learning.
Founded in 1917, The Workers’ Educational Association of Canada is a member of the International Federation of Workers’ Educational Associations (IFWEA), and linked to the Scandinavian community education associations and the WEA’s of the Commonwealth.
For over fifty years, until the establishment of community colleges, WEA was the primary provider of adult education in Canada. From the Farm Radio Forums and the Saturday night Labour Forums in the 1930’s and 1940’s, to the provision of liberal arts courses to hundreds of thousands of ordinary people across Canada from 1918 to 1968, WEA has been a pioneer in the field of adult learning.
Learning Curves and University in the Community are the current expressions of the traditions and values of the WEA to support, encourage and inform adult learners.
Board of Directors
WEA Directors are actively engaged in adult education as teachers and learners. Each contributes to WEA’s role in helping adults to learn and to the broader community of adult learning through their work and volunteer contributions. The WEA currently has two projects, Learning Curves a newspaper for adults returning to school and University in the Community in partnership with Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre and Woodsworth College (University of Toronto).
The WEA of Canada is “dedicated to enriching the learning opportunities for the adult leaner and its objectives include calling attention to and spreading knowledge of educational opportunities and helping people acquire knowledge essential to intelligent and effective citizenship.” (from WEA’s constitution)
The history of WEA’s remarkable influence on adult education in Canada during the last century is preserved in sixty feet of archival material in the Archives of Ontario. Anyone interested in the history of Adult Education in Canada would be well-advised to look at some of this information.
Over the years, we have implemented this mandate through a variety of programs and services. Our Top Ten Accomplishments include:
1. Hosting the Adult Learning Line from 1985- 1997, an information and referral hotline on training and educational opportunities in Metro Toronto. Approximately 3,000 enquiries were received each year;
2. Distribution of the James Rogers Memorial Bursary to approximately 50 adult students over a seven year period;
3. Helping over 1,000 laid off workers find new directions (1992-1996) through the delivery of job skills workshops at a variety of venues in the City of Toronto
4. Representation on the Task Force of Lifelong Learning of the Premier’s Council of Ontario 1993-1995;
5. Hosting of the 1992 conference of the International Federation of Workers’ Educational Associations;
6. Publication in 1991 of Unravelling the Tangle: Learning Information Services for Adults in Canada, the results of cross-Canada and international research. This publication identified citizens’ need for educational information to make life plans and to adapt to the changing workplace;
7. Publication in 1984 of the User Pay Policy which examined the issues surrounding the shift towards charging fees for non-credit programming by the boards of education;
8. Provision of law, philosophy, politics, medicine and other liberal arts programming for workers across Canada from 1918 to 1968 with hundreds of thousands of students attending classes;
9. The ground-breaking programming of the WEA Farm Radio Forums and the Saturday night Labour Forums of the 1930’s and 1940’s offered on CBC radio;
10. The WEA summer school open from the late thirties until 1964 with over 100 students attending each summer and featuring notable guest lecturers such as Sir Frederick Banting and Harold Innis. History buffs can find over 60 feet of WEA records in the Ontario Archives.