||Volume 22, Number 7, May/June 2010
By Irene Lanzinger
About 20 years ago, I was sitting in the staffroom at Magee Secondary School in Vancouver at a school union meeting. We needed a representative for the Status of Women Committee. “One meeting a month,” I thought. “I can do that.” I raised my hand to volunteer. I was sucked into the vortex of BCTF activism. Before I knew it I was a local president, on the provincial bargaining team, and eventually president of the BCTF.
In my role as president, I have come to experience firsthand the work we do together as a union and professional association. We have a culture in the BCTF that responds to the ideas that teachers bring forward through their provincial specialist associations, through committees, through motions in locals, at representative assemblies, or annual general meetings. As a result, we are engaged in a seemingly endless array of activities and campaigns.
We build in many ways for our members to become involved—staff representatives, local executive committees, or as representatives in a wide variety of areas: professional development, health and safety, social justice, bargaining, working and learning conditions, TTOC issues, Aboriginal education, French programs, and more.
Teachers become involved through their provincial specialist associations, as workshop facilitators, as parent presenters, as peer mentors, or through the internal mediation service and judicial council. They become involved in international solidarity work on our committee or as English teachers in Cuba and Peru. They serve on our pensions committee, our income security committee, or help with the Assistance Society. And I am sure I have missed a few ways!
We have a wonderful union in the BCTF. We are always willing to put in a lot of work to achieve the things we believe in. Our commitment to our profession, to public education, and to social justice runs deeply through all the work we do.
As I finish up my last term as president, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities I have had to learn, to grow, and to contribute to everything we stand for as teachers.
It has been such an honour and a pleasure to represent the teachers of BC. I am always impressed by the professional commitment, integrity, and courage of BCTF members. It is no wonder we have such a strong, principled, and active union. Let’s keep it that way.