What do you do when you can’t find a resource to start important conversations in your classroom? You create one, of course. Peel teacher Greg Maxton (who writes under his married name, Kentris) had become increasingly frustrated with the persistent, intentional and casual homophobia that he saw in his middle school teaching environment.
Oct. 9-10, 2013
President Hammond welcomed Representative Council members to their first meeting at ETFO’s new building. With the completion of the 2012 round of collective bargaining earlier in October, President Hammond thanked local presidents for their unwavering leadership over the past two years. He discussed the government legislation that will provide a new bargaining framework in the education sector, and outlined ETFO’s participation in consultations. More information will be forthcoming.
Members welcomed Stephanie Karapita, chief executive officer of Casey House, which is located adjacent to ETFO’s new building. She provided an overview of her organization’s work in providing compassionate care to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Toronto and York Region Labour Council President John Cartwright spoke about the power and value of unions in winning rights for all Canadians. He encouraged ETFO to engage members and build alliances with other unions, community groups, and parents in order to achieve prosperity, respect, and power in the face of anti-union and corporate interests.
Presidents’ telephone town hall
On Wednesday October 30, 2013, local presidents participated in a telephone town hall meeting to discuss provisions in Bill 122, An Act Respecting Collective Bargaining in Ontario’s School System.President Sam Hammond reviewed the provisions of Bill 122, discussed ETFO’s position on the bill, and answered presidents’ questions.
Union School ensures leadership renewal
Thirty-six members from across the province met between October 27 and 29 to start their year-long ETFO Union School journey. This intensive leadership program is a significant part of ETFO’s commitment to leadership renewal. The program is designed to help prepare participants for the many leadership roles within the union by providing learning opportunities and skill building within a unionized environment. Over the course of the year the participants will focus on communication, collective bargaining, unionism, information/resources management, the use of technology, problem solving, member engagement, advocacy, issues of professionalism, relationship building, emotionally intelligent leadership, and equity principles.
More than 70 ETFO delegates participated in 12th biennial OFL Convention November 25-29, 2013 in Toronto. The theme of the convention was “Rising Together!” – a reflection on the past accomplishments of the labour movement and a declaration of labour’s commitment to pushing back against austerity and neoliberal policies in Canada.
ETFO’s second GSA Symposium
ETFO’s second GSA Symposium in November was chock-full of ways to assist members in starting gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in their schools. Along with a keynote address by Jeremy Dias of Jer’s Vision, participants heard from Peel teacher Greg Maxton, author of the middle school book for educators and students, Defying Gay Gravity. OISE/University of Toronto’s Larry Swartz led a literacy/arts session on bullying and inclusiveness, and representatives from COPA introduced new tools for creating safe, strong, and equitable schools. A key message was that GSAs create safe schools and help students take a moral and ethical approach to stopping homophobia, transphobia, and cyberbullying.
ETFO Provincial Bargaining Conference 2013
Over 300 ETFO leaders from across the province gathered in Toronto on November 20 and 21 for the 2013 Collective Bargaining Conference in preparation for the 2014 round of bargaining. Current collective agreements expire on August 31, 2014. Participants attended a variety of workshops on topics such as Bargaining Basics, Maternity Leave, Grievances, and Bargaining through an Equity Lens. President Hammond welcomed gathered local leaders saying, “What we are preparing for – free and fair collective bargaining – is at the very heart of what makes ETFO a union. Unions are the greatest force for progressive social and economic change that I know. Fighting injustice is our mission, delivering equity for all – including our students – is our defining purpose.”
ETFO hosts launch of COPA resources
In October, ETFO hosted the launch of new resources from COPA (Centre ontarien de prévention des agressions) designed to stop bullying and foster inclusive learning environments.
Called “Tools Not Rules for Bullying Prevention, Equity, and Inclusion,” the event showcased safeatschool.ca, a new toolkit called “We All Belong,” and the website changeourworld.ca developed with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. Lead educators were joined by Ontario Human Rights Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall, and Ruth Flynn, director of the Ministry of Education’s Inclusive Education Branch and Parent Engagement Office. Jody Nyasha Warner, author of ViolaDesmond Won’t Be Budged, read from her new children’s book written for COPA.