||Volume 18, Number 5, March 2006 |
Michelle Davies, Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlottes
During picket duty we had CUPE members actually bring in hot plates, make mocha lattes for everyone, and just gather strength through sharing food. That’s one of the biggest things on the Charlottes that gathers everybody together and makes everybody happy. Another thing is the severe weather we experience in the Charlottes and most of our sites were fairly open to the elements. At our school, the parents came on the first day and seeing the teachers huddled together and freezing because of the driving rain, they came without hesitation and built us this really skookum shelter that the wind wasn’t going to penetrate and neither was the rain. It was really nice to see that, especially in an area where we don’t get a lot of traffic going by. Our school is built on a hill and out of the way, so to see the parents come and support us that way, to bring us food, CUPE being there for us 100%, really brought our staff together, really brought our district together.
Being out for the children for two weeks, especially with what we face in the Charlottes, was really tremendous. We organized a rally at the district office and we had parents come out and speak about their children and how their children have been affected by the cuts, and it was really emotional. Teachers were speaking out about class sizes of 40 students in a senior level science course.
I think it’s very important that teachers continue to maintain affiliation with the BCFed. Being a fifth generation union activist in my own family, you go back to the old saying, "you break one pencil and it’s going to break easily, you try to break 20 and it’s not as easy." So we need to stick together to fight the common cause.
Wendy Turner, Southeast Kootenay
We experienced tremendous support from all of our affiliate unions within the East Kootenays during our strike. On October 19, the East Kootenay teachers had a special day of protest and we were joined by other union members and were successful in shutting down a number of work sites within the East Kootenays. They walked the line with us during the entire two weeks and lent their support.
I think it’s important for us to be a part of the BC Federation of Labour because it gives us a much broader base of communication, organization, and support in making public education issues a public message. It helps us educate the public about how those issues influence their children within schools.
The BCTF contributes our ideas, our enthusiasm and our organization to the BC Federation of Labour and when we work together as a united group we are invincible, as we have seen this past fall with our political protest.