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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 2, October 2006

The word on the street is: Thanks BCTF!

Hundreds of people came by the BCTF booth at Vancouver’s 12th annual national book and magazine festival, Word on the Street (WOTS). More than 500 booths, exhibitors, presentations, and displays circled the Vancouver Public Library inside and out. The day bustled with families, kids, and adults of all ages under a warm September sun. The BCTF was present with a booth celebrating teaching and learning. Many brochures, literature, buttons, and other items were available free for anyone who stopped by.

Vancouver Canucks mascot Fin was on hand as the event had a hockey theme this year. Fin dropped by and proudly wore a Friend of Public Education button for the duration of the event.

As part of the WOTS treasure hunt, the BCTF gave away a small book and a coupon for Vancouver Kids Books, who partnered with us for the treasure hunt. Many families who stopped by to collect their gift thanked teachers for the incredible job they do. They recognized the many hours spent preparing lessons and the energy required teaching every day while building important relationships with students. One visitor emphatically stated, "They don’t pay teachers enough for the important job they do!" Others commented that they couldn’t do the job—it is too demanding.

Several Washington State teachers stopped by and remembered the support BC teachers showed the Marysville teachers’ strike several years ago. That strike was long and bitter but spirits brightened when the BCTF table officers showed up in solidarity and donated $10,000 to their strike fund on behalf of BC’s teachers. That support was reciprocated last October when Washington State teachers walked the picket line in solidarity with our members. One Washington teacher remarked, "I’d love to live and work up here. You guys are so great and it’s so beautiful."

Teachers who stopped by stocked up on materials such as buttons, calendars, and bookmarks. "It’s great to see us represented here," several teachers commented. Also flying off the table were the small sized Charter for Public Education posters, a perfect size for every classroom, library, and staffroom wall. Many teachers who stopped to chat had questions about the collective agreement bonus and Bill 33.

Several student volunteers, dressed in the red WOTS t-shirts came by to pick up the ubiquitous Friend of Public Education buttons. Their teachers encouraged them to participate in the event and the students were glad they’d taken the advice. "Our teachers are so awesome! They really encourage us to try different things like getting involved in the community."

One of the most heart-warming conversations took place with two young women who approached the booth. They had just graduated from their teacher education program and were starting out as teachers on call. They were friendly, bright, and intelligent but what they wanted to talk about the most was the unionism and collective strength of the BC Teachers’ Federation. "Thank goodness the BCTF exists to look after teachers," they said. "You guys did an amazing job last October. Who else would look out for us?" In their view, the BCTF makes a huge difference in the working and learning conditions of teachers and students. They were proud to be part of the union and ready to get involved.

So a day organized to publicly mark the importance of reading, writing, and publishing was also a day where many took the time to acknowledge teaching, learning, and unionism, and say Thanks BCTF!

Word on the Street is a national event held in five cities across Canada. Go to www.wordonthestreet.ca to learn more.


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