As we worked on this women’s issue of Voice, I thought a lot about the importance of narrative, the stories we tell about ourselves and our social movements.
Annual Meeting 2012 (Your Federation)
Close to 600 delegates attended the 2012 Annual Meeting in Toronto to debate and set policy directions for the upcoming year. In his opening address, President Hammond set the tone for the meeting by expressing the anger and betrayal that members are feeling in response to the Liberal government’s unprecedented attack on educators. “The government cuts are the most concerted attack on collective agreements and public sector workers in the lifetime of anyone in this room,” Hammond said. “I defy anyone here today to point to a time when there was a greater assault on democracy, collective bargaining rights, and the integrity of our profession.” The negotiating conditions imposed by the Liberal government and its manufactured crisis in education were uppermost in delegates’ minds for the four days of the meeting. Delegates embraced the theme “We’re Ready” – to protect the rights of our members, our classrooms, our bargaining, and our democracy. Since February, the president stated, ETFO has worked to create a fair and democratic process for bargaining; we have been in constant communication with members; we have created radio, television, and print ads to share our position with the public; members sent almost 70,000 postcards to the Premier’s office to express their concerns in their own voices; and the executive has met with thousands of members in their locals. “We resolve to move forward, to advocate for our members and our classrooms today, and to protect the rights of educators and other Ontario workers into the future.” “You cannot legislate away long-held rights, benefits, and compensation and expect business as usual. It is not business as usual,” Hammond concluded.
Andrea Horwath Leader, Ontario, NDP Andrea Horwath addressed delegates, offering the support of the NDP in our ongoing dispute with the Liberal government. “In Ontario,” Horwath said, “we need to look at government revenue, as well as spending, confront the growing inequality that is taking Ontario off course and reject reckless cuts and regressive fees.” “To ensure the health of Ontario’s education system,” she said, “we must give teachers the tools to teach, give them the support they need to do their jobs, and treat them with respect.” “Let me close by pledging to continue to stand up for Ontario educators,” she concluded “with the same passion and commitment that you show for educating our kids. " Stephan Bognar CEO Maddox Jolie Pitt Foundation This year’s Social Justice speaker Stephan Bognar, CEO of the Maddox Jolie Pitt Foundation, described the conditions facing girls and women in Southeast Asia. He talked about the work the foundation has done, with ETFO’s help, in developing health care, education, and small businesses – all with a focus on women and girls. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he closed his presentation with a video made with the women and children of Samlout, Cambodia. Ian Troop CEO 2015, Pan Am Games ''With only three years to go until the Games,there are numerous ways students and youth can get involved," IanTroop told delegates at the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Annual Meeting in Toronto. Organizers are creating opportunities to reach and inspire students with tools including Kids 'n Play, a Pan Am 2015 curriculum that ETFO is helping lead. It will introduce students to team-building activities,anti-bullying education,and the cultures of the Americas.Troop also thanked ETFO for being a founding member of the 2015 Pride House,an initiative to make the Games a welcoming experience for LGBT participants,volunteers and fans.
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Paul Taillefer, president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, presented ETFO President Sam Hammond, Vice President Maureen Weinberger, OTF Table Officer Rian McLaughlin, and former ETFO President Emily Noble with Diamond Jubilee Medals. He quoted Governor General David Johnson, “The recipients who are honoured by this medal have made Canada better. Individually, they have improved the well-being of many in our communities, and together, they have helped to create a smarter, more caring nation.” Honorary Life Membership Honorary life memberships are ETFO’s highest form of recognition. They are awarded to retired members who have given outstanding service to the federation. Congratulations to Pat Balyk (ETFO staff) and Kathy Clarke (Halton Teacher Local) on being the 2012 award winners. President ’s Award Susan Swackhammer, First Vice President of ETFO, received the 2012 President’s award. Swackhammer is serving her second term as First Vice President, having been re-elected in August 2011. Before assuming the position in 2009, she was a member of the executive and president of the Grand Erie Teacher Local, a position she held for seven years. “She is a dear friend, and a wonderful human being, and has devoted the better part of four decades to education and our members,” said President Hammond as he presented Swackhammer the award. Niagara Teachers Win ETFO Writer’s Award For collaborative research Susan Di Teodoro, Sharon Donders Joy Kemp-Davidson, Peggy Robertson, and Lori Schuyler, members of the Niagara Teacher Local, received the award for a research project focused on creating greater understanding of mathematics through improved questioning techniques. Their research study was published in the Canadian Journal of Action Research in 2011. Julia Levine, Bluewater ETFO Humanitarian Award For three years, Julia Levine was the Kiwanis area spokesperson for a million dollar fundraising project providing in vitro anti-retrovirals to expectant mothers, and HIV prevention education for children in Jamaican schools. In 2011, Levine spearheaded an auction to raise money to build an accessible children’s playground at Harrison Park in Owen Sound. She also chaired a local fundraiser for a multi-year project with UNICEF and Kiwanis to raise money for the prevention of maternal neonatal tetanus. In her 30 year career as a teacher, most recently at Keppel-Sarawak Public School, Levine has instilled the same kind of caring and community values in her students Pyara Sidhu, Elementary Teachers of Toronto New Member Award A teacher at Elia Middle School in North York, Sidhu is an outstanding example of a teacher who is always ready to serve his students, his colleagues, and his union. He is highly respected for following principles of equity with his students, and for employing differentiated instruction to meet the diverse needs of students and enable them to achieve their fullest potential. A member of ETT’s New Teachers Committee since 2007, he welcomes new teachers into the system, and organizes meetings, workshops and weekend getaway programs for them. Elementary Teachers of Toronto , Thames Valley Teacher Local Member Service and Engagement Award This year, The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario presented a new award for Member Service and Engagement. The locals are celebrated for providing outstanding service to members, ensuring there are opportunities for member involvement, and employing effective communication practices.
When faced with a regressive government that consistently demonstrates its backwards logic, we must double down on our commitments to one another, to our collective well-being and to equity and social justice.