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Seeds of Social Justice header image Spotlight image

September 2019

Welcome back to the 2019-20 school year following what we imagine was a relaxing and reinvigorating summer vacation. Hopefully you are eager to find new ways to bring social justice into your classrooms, schools, and communities.

Since the last edition of SEEDS in May, there have been many interesting social justice initiatives and events which members should be made aware.

In May the Committee for Action on Social Justice (CASJ) and the Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee joined forces to co-host the BCTF biennial Social Justice Conference. The theme of the conference was ReconciliACTION and it incorporated the intersectionality of our Aboriginal and social justice work. We look forward to many future collaborations. This year there will be three Regional Social Justice conferences.

June saw the release of the MMIWG Report. We have been studying the recommendations and through our committees and actions will continue to strive towards furthering the truth and reconciliation needed to move us towards the systemic changes needed in our union and our country. Please see the BCTF created resource Their Voices Will Guide Us. This resource is an education initiative of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The intent is to facilitate critical thinking, purposeful reflection, and dialogue around the perceptions and lived realities of Indigenous women and girls, including members of 2SLGBTQQIA communities.

CASJ has expanded to include a Disability Rights Action Group. The four members of this action group will work together to advocate for policies and create resources with the goals of raising awareness of issues related to ableism and advancing the rights of teachers and students with disabilities. This exciting Equity and Inclusion work within our union structures is exciting and fundamental to our values. (See below Opportunities for Members.)

As you travel through this school year, remember that the BCTF has many resources available to teachers that can be found on the BCTF website under the Social Justice heading on the home page as well as lessons found in TeachBC.

Social Justice school mailout

Ask your staff rep or school-based social justice rep about the September BCTF social justice package, which was recently mailed to your school. In it, you’ll find the following items:

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2: Labour Day

8: International Literacy Day

15: International Day of Democracy

21: UN International Day of Peace

22–28: National Forest Week

26: International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

30: Orange Shirt Day


The monthly editions of Seeds of Social Justice highlight resources teachers can use to engage students in relevant activities. The editions are sent by email to local presidents and local social justice contacts for distribution to BCTF members. You can also find the latest edition of Seeds on the Publications page of the BCTF website under newsletters, bulletins and alerts.

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The Social Justice Resources brochure highlights a variety of social justice materials available from the BCTF.

To request hard copies of these resources, go to the BCTF website and toggle on Social Justice then Publications and finally Posters available for order.  Or you can go here.  This is a more efficient online ordering system.

The Social Justice Binder contains a number of useful documents for teachers, including information on social justice grants, workshops, resources, and tools to help incorporate social justice into your classroom. Ask your local social justice contact to download and share the electronic version of this resource from the Social Justice Contact tab on the BCTF member portal.

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A big thanks to BCTF members who participated in Facilitators’ Institute Training (FIT) this August. These teachers are now available to facilitate the following new or revised Social Justice workshops at no cost at a school-based, local, or regional professional development day. To learn more about these and other social justice workshops, click on the workshop image below or visit the Social Justice Workshops page on the BCTF website.  

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  1. The BCTF will be hosting the second annual Session on Racism for teachers who identify as people of colour. This year it will take place on October 4-6 and will include new applicants as well as last year’s attendees. Please go to the Opportunities for Members section of the BCTF website for application information.

  2. Are you interested in the BCTF Internal Mediation service? Do you identify as a person of colour?  If so, you have until September 6 to apply for one of four 3-year terms.

    Internal Mediation Service
    Four, three-year terms to June 30, 2022
    The Federation will appoint up to four teacher-mediators for three-year terms. These positions will be awarded to members who identify as persons of colour. The Internal Mediation Service (IMS) is a team of volunteer BCTF members trained and experienced as mediators. Successful candidates must be available to attend new members’ IMS training on September 19, followed by the team meeting on September 20–21, 2019.

  3. If you have a passion for social justice and are looking for a way to contribute to your school without committing a large amount of time, this year might be the time to put your name forward as your school-based social justice rep. The time commitment required for this role depends on you. Teachers with limited time can help by simply forwarding social justice-related information from the BCTF and local social justice contacts to teaching staff. School contacts wishing to play a larger role may choose to work with colleagues to set goals and carry out projects. School-based contacts can also advocate for policies related to social justice within a school, local, or community.

  4. There will be three BCTF Regional Social Justice Conferences in the 2019-2020 school year.  Please take the time to review the options in your area and consider attending one of these BCTF sponsored Pro-D events. Stay tuned for more details in upcoming SEEDS.

    South Island                      Tapestry—Climate Justice
    February 13–14, 2020         Climate Justice strand at the Tapestry conference

    Metro/Fraser Valley            Solidarity in the Face of the Climate Crisis in Cascadia
    February 29, 2020              Intersectional decolonizing and climate change

    North Coast                       Environment Justice for Northern B.C.
    May 15–16, 2020                Intersectionality of the environment, poverty and reconciliation

  5. Recently, the BCTF Executive awarded four 3-year term positions to members who will make up the inaugural BCTF Disability Rights Action Group.

    Under their new terms of reference, the Committee for Action on Social Justice (CASJ) has expanded to include a Disability Rights Action Group. The four members of this action group will work together to advocate for policies and create resources with the goals of raising awareness of issues related to ableism and advancing the rights of teachers and students with disabilities. The members of this new action group will work together to identify their key areas of focus. Disability rights action group members will also collaborate with the members of the other CASJ actions groups on intersectional issues and will contribute to the networking and training roles carried out by CASJ members.The committee makes recommendations to the BCTF Executive Committee on social justice issues and BCTF social justice policy; promotes and assists in the development of local, zonal, and provincial networks of teachers on social justice issues; creates resources for teachers and locals; assists locals and zones in developing general social justice programs, projects, and events; and works on developing links with other unions, community groups, NGOs, and others 
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Did you know that the BCTF provides grants and funds to support teachers in carrying out social justice projects? If you have a project in mind for the 2019–20 school year, you are invited to apply now. To learn about additional grants, including the  Ed May Social Responsibility Education Fund and Local Social Justice Grants, visit the Social Justice Grants and Funds webpage.

The Provincial Social Justice Initiatives Grant is awarded on a yearly basis to support social justice projects that have an ongoing and systemic impact on teachers and students across the province and in their community. Projects may involve local community groups but should not be donations to these groups. The total amount of grant funds awarded in each school year is a maximum of $5,000. This amount may be awarded to one applicant or divided between two applicants. The deadline is December 2, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.

Todd Patrick
Assistant Director of Social Justice
BC Teachers' Federation
100-550 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2
604-871-1850
tpatrick@bctf.ca

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