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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 1, September 2004

Jinny Sims takes the helm as BCTF president

Since the B.C. Teachers’ Federation was founded, in 1917, only five women have risen from the classroom to the office of BCTF president. This year, Jinny Sims became the sixth.

Born in India, Jinny was nine when her family emigrated to England. A native Punjabi speaker, she had to struggle with English. "There was no ESL instruction in those days. It was total immersion!"

Even so, Jinny loved school. As a teen, she was active in community service, competed in fencing, and earned a black belt in judo. After graduation, she headed to the University of Victoria at Manchester, where she completed her B.Ed degree. There she met her husband, Stephen Sims, also a teacher. In those days, cross-cultural relationships were so rare that "we’d bring traffic to a halt when we passed by!"

Once she started teaching, Jinny worked with highly academic students and with youth in a juvenile prison. "I loved working with all those kids. I ran the judo and fencing teams, the multicultural club, all kinds of activities," she said. "We were young, and there was lots of energy and excitement."

Jinny’s involvement with the union movement began with the National Union of Teachers in Britain, and continued after she emigrated to Canada in 1975. The Sims family settled in Nanaimo, where Jinny taught social studies and English, and worked as a school counsellor.

When B.C. teachers began the drive to unionize, Jinny was deeply involved in the first round of local bargaining. She served on committees including the Status of Women and the Program Against Racism, as well as the executive of her local. She was elected president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association in 1992, holding that position until 1995. Since 1998, Jinny has served on the provincial Executive Committee as a member-at-large, second vice-president, and first vice-president.

Jinny and Stephen Sims have two children: Keeran, 27, and Michael, 22. As well, they are proud grandparents of Emily, eight, and Jacob and Jessica, five-year-old twins.

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