Looking ahead to 2018 — nationally and professionally

By H. Mark Ramsankar

I became the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) President in July 2017. These first few months have been exciting, fast paced, trying yet fulfilling. So much has happened in such a short period of time. What is of interest is the speed at which time has travelled. Six months seems like a long time yet here we are; closing out another year and heading into a new one. So, what have I learned in this new role and what might be ahead as we travel into 2018?

In 2017, the well-being of our schools was the theme of CTF’s pre-AGM Canadian Forum on Public Education, and youth mental health was the focus of our 2015 federal election campaign. These remain our focal priorities as we continue to advocate for safe and caring schools across Canada. A key issue of concern for Canadian teachers is the mental health and well-being of our students and teachers. Given the incredible diversity of Canadian classrooms and schools; providing the necessary supports and services for students identified with special academic needs and facing mental health challenges are absolutely critical. Sadly, resources and supports continue to lag in this age of austerity.

Our national collective bargaining conference in June 2017 found our Member organizations indicating and reporting an increase in the number of incidences concerning violence in Canadian classrooms. Education is a dynamic sector in all our provinces and territories. Outside influences on Canadian classrooms are very real and generally beyond a teacher’s influence or control.

The critical lack of supports and resources for children with serious behavioral issues has led to a rise in violent outbursts placing students and teachers at risk. Our schools need stronger funding bases and resources for special education, a comprehensive approach to supporting children’s mental health as well as health and safety protection and training for all school personnel. Teacher survey reports released by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario speak clearly to this issue.

The change in student demographics, class size and structure, the rise in violent incidents in our classrooms, the growing demands for recording and reporting student progress, 24-7 access to teachers along with the unprecedented growth of corporate intrusion/interests are straining our teaching and learning environments across Canada.

Member organizations also said the number of episodes reported does not come close to the reality of violence teachers face regularly at school. This may be due to a stigma to reporting acts of violence in the classroom. The result is that teachers can be reluctant to report because they perceive it may reflect poorly on their worth as an educator. We need to continue advocating for resources and the support necessary so teachers can teach the way they want to teach to continue meeting the needs of their students and to reduce the day-to-day stress of the classroom.

CTF is justifiably concerned with Bill S-206, a private member’s bill which is currently at second reading in the Senate, effectively calling for the repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. If passed, this wrong-headed approach will impact students’ safety and the teacher’s ability to work directly with students. Section 43 is the only protection teachers have against prosecution when they are carrying out their duties in the complicated, unpredictable climate of today’s schools.

In April 2017, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette spoke to the CTF Board of Directors about Bill S-206, the bill she introduced in the Senate which has since been taken over by Senator Murray Sinclair. Board members took the opportunity to inform the Senator of the negative impact the repeal could have on the safety and security of all students and personnel in schools. CTF is fundamentally opposed to any form of corporal punishment but recognizes the need for physical contact with students and, at times, the need for physical restraint to ensure their safety and the safety of others. We believe and hope she heard our message. Senator Hervieux-Payette promised to reexamine the bill with the Justice department in order to address the concerns of teachers. 2018 has CTF continuing to closely monitor Bill S-206. Debate was adjourned on December 7, 2017.

Copyright in Schools is currently another focus of our advocacy work which will continue in 2018. The current legislation is viewed as an international example to model yet concerns by the publishing industry have once again brought it forward as an issue. As the federal government is currently reviewing the copyright legislation, content creators and the industry sector have been busy lobbying the federal government for changes. CTF as part of the Education coalition has been lobbying against the proposed changes but for maintaining the fair use/fair dealing provisions established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2012. If creators succeed in a revised federal legislation in their favour, we can all expect to see increased copyright fees that will siphon education funds away from students and schools and into the pockets of publishers. This will seriously harm teachers’ ability to access and use resource materials in Canadian classrooms.

I invite all CTF Members organizations and Canadian teachers to pressure their federal representatives throughout the coming months to maintain the fair use/fair dealing provisions in our education system. It’s important to have our voices heard at every opportunity.

The power of close to a quarter of a million voices and the collective voice of our profession are what drive our advocacy efforts. You as teacher leaders are the drivers of CTF through your professional organization. Through this work, we can continue to strengthen our world class public education system.

As classroom teachers, we must tell the story of today’s Canadian classrooms in 2018. What are the realities we face and how does lack of support combined with inclusion and the creation of inclusive classrooms impact learning environments and Canadian students’ opportunities to learn? Teachers understand the essence of learning is founded in the relationships between teachers and students. Support for nurturing and developing these meaningful relationships and maintaining safe and healthy learning environments is the work ahead in 2018.

(H. Mark Ramsankar is the President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation)

Now, more than ever, the need to protect public education in the era of Trump

By Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Keynote remarks at the CTF Canadian Forum on Public Education,  July 10, 2017 in Ottawa.

Values, democracy

Like many of you, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since our election. Donald Trump ran as a populist but governs for the elite and the wealthy. He exploited the deep distrust and anxiety in America, people’s frustration with an economy and political system rigged against them. He hijacked the rhetoric of our movement to get elected. He promised jobs to out-of-work factory workers and coal miners. He promised an end to Obamacare and a much better replacement. He hasn’t delivered. Indeed, his actions to date have been to take things away from people—the push to strip people of health care, of voting rights, labor rights, reproductive rights, travel rights, among other things. And in the process, he has disrespected the dignity of the office of the president.

As polarized as our country now seems, when you really listen to people throughout America,  you still hear similar hopes and aspirations, regardless of geography or demography or politics.

I’ve traveled a great deal since the November election, visited hundreds of schools and talked with educators, parents, community leaders and others in big cities and in small rural towns; to Democrats as well as folks who voted for Trump. This is what I hear:

  • People want good jobs that pay a living wage and a voice at work.
  • They want a secure retirement with dignity.
  • They want affordable, accessible healthcare coverage so they’re not one illness away from bankruptcy.
  • And they want public schools that are safe, welcoming, and give kids a ladder of opportunity. And people want affordable higher education that doesn’t leave them with a mountain of debt.

What we know is that none of this happens without a strong and vibrant democracy that’s inclusive, respects the will of the people, and protects the civil rights of all.

So in some ways, the biggest challenge in America, and frankly around the world, is the dangerous attacks on pluralism and freedom. In the U.S., it looks like blatant voter suppression, gerrymandering of districts to hurt minorities and Democrats; attacks on the media and the judiciary, and blaming immigrants, Muslims, even transgender students, for all the problems of a world in transition.

I have been carrying a book that a Yale history professor, Dr.  Tim Snyder, has written, called “On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century.” It essentially instructs us that history, while it doesn’t repeat, can instruct and can warn…  and if we are going to take on the fight for these values… who better than do that than the world‘s educators.

Labor unions and public education

The AFT and the CTF represent two institutions vital to opportunity and democracy: labor unions and public education. That is why we are in the crosshairs, maybe right now more in the United States than Canada. But I know education privatization is creeping across the border in at least three Canadian provinces.

Public education and labor unions are the gateways to the middle class. They are the foundations of a just society and a vibrant democracy. And they provide paths to counter the lack of economic security and opportunity that is tearing at the fabric of our society.

(From left to right: CTF President H. Mark Ramsankar, CTF VP Francine Leblanc-Lebel, former CTF President Heather Smith, CTF VP James Dinn, AFT President Randi Weingarten and former CTF VP Shelley Morse.)

Trump-DeVos agenda

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are committed to two things: They treat education as a commodity, not as a public good. And they promote and incentivize privatizing schools while defunding, destabilizing and ultimately destroying public education by slashing education dollars and diverting them elsewhere, including for private school tuition.

DeVos couches her education vision with the argument that every parent deserves the right to send their child to a school of their choice. Sounds good, right? But what she doesn’t say is that she wants to make it impossible for public schools to be a viable option. She wants to drain money from public schools and hand it over to privatizers.

Her cruel, callous, catastrophic education budget would zero out more than $9 billion in funding for programs that help lift up low-income public school students. And we have real evidence that these programs have been very effective – like after-school enrichment programs, community schools with wraparound services, smaller class sizes and college tuition assistance. Yet, she wants to use $20 billion over the next several years for private school vouchers and other privatization.

She is using the Swedish playbook, to our children’s detriment. Sweden’s students were once among the world’s top-performers. Then Sweden moved to a privatization model, student outcomes plummeted, and Sweden’s ranking plunged. If a strategy isn’t moving the needle anywhere in the world, why in the world would we use it?

And it’s not just in Sweden. In the United States, we have seen similar results with unaccountable privatization:

  • Voucher programs in Louisiana, Indiana and Washington D.C. have had negligible or negative effects on their students. There has been no credible study in the 30 years of vouchers in the United States that concludes those students do better than their public school peers.
  • And the for-profit charter schools that DeVos pushed in Michigan had poor student outcomes along with gross mismanagement and corruption. In 2003, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading. By 2015, the state was ranked 41st. In fourth-grade math, the state went from 27th to 42nd.

Visits to Canadian, Van Wert schools

There are great public schools in Canada and the United States. I have visited some in Ottawa that I would rank among the world’s best. We also have lots of excellent public schools in the U.S. that are using “what works” to be schools where parents want to send their kids, teachers want to teach and where there’s joy in learning and kids get engaging instruction. And we have taken delegations to see great schools.

In fact, I took DeVos to a great school system in a rural, small city in Ohio that went overwhelmingly for Trump in November. Van Wert, Ohio, public schools have a robust early childhood program, a nationally recognized robotics team and a community school that helps at-risk students graduate. And it’s clear that teachers and school leaders collaborate and respect each other. But just weeks after that visit, she submitted her budget proposal that would cut federal funding for these programs. It’s truly incomprehensible.

We need to lift up public schools that work and the programs that make them work.

But what happens when they are not working for kids?  What happens when we continue to under-resource schools? 23 states still spend less on K-12 education than before the Great Recession.

If schools aren’t safe enough or are otherwise struggling, the solution isn’t to throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s not to dismantle public education in favor of an ideology and an agenda that have no evidence of working.

It’s to do what I call the four pillars—the strategies that will help create and maintain successful schools: focusing on children’s well-being, powerful learning, teacher capacity and collaboration.

Children’s well being

Education starts with meeting children where they are—emotionally, socially, physically and academically. Every child needs to feel safe and valued. We also need to confront poverty because we know that poverty’s consequences seriously affect how kids do in school. One way is with community schools, which are neighborhood schools that meet students’ needs by coordinating with partners for resources. These include in-school health and dental clinics, social workers, guidance counselors, food pantries, parent resource centers. And at these schools, we’ve seen large gains in student attendance, parental involvement and academic progress.

Powerful learning

The path to accomplishing the goals of developing students academically, for work and civic life lies on powerful learning—learning that engages students; encourages them to investigate, strategize and work in teams. Testing and test prep won’t get them there. An example is what we saw in Van Wert, Ohio, a rigorous project-based approach that starts in elementary school and goes through high school. Career and technical education can also deeply engage students and develop skills and knowledge that they will use in the world of work.

Building teacher capacity

We’ve seen for too long and in far too many schools the routine of basically throwing the keys to a teacher and telling them to ‘just do it and do it well.’ No one would accept that if it involved pilots or soldiers. But teachers? Becoming an accomplished teacher takes time, support and an intentional focus – like teacher residency programs that pair a prospective teacher with accomplished educators … and opportunities for new and veteran teachers to share experiences with colleagues. Also, teacher evaluations should be about teacher development to support teacher growth and student learning. Teacher evaluations shouldn’t be solely based on test scores and used as a hammer to sanction and punish teachers.

Fostering school and community collaboration

The glue that holds all of this together is educators, parents and community partners working together. What doesn’t work for a struggling school is taking the “disruption” approach—mass firings, school closures, and district or state takeovers. What is effective is working together and bringing in the programs and services that will lift up our schools, not tear them down. Like speech therapy, Socratic seminars, science fairs, chess clubs, mentors for students.

We are in the fight of our lives. On the one hand, we have as our education secretary the most ideological, anti-public education person to ever hold the title. She is someone who has never seen a privatization program she disliked or a public school she liked. On the other side, there are those of us who believe that every child has a right to dream their dreams and achieve them. That only happens with a system of public education.


And even though most days it feels like an uphill battle, there is a real appetite in the United States to fight back, and we are doing just that.

At the end of the day, parents want to feel confident in their public schools, know that they have a safe and welcoming environment where kids find joy in learning. They want education to enable opportunity and they want their public schools to live up to their potential as the great equalizers in our society.

In the United States, now is not the time to lower our defenses or sit on the sidelines. With an increasingly erratic president and members of his party who refuse to act as a check and balance, we have to hold them accountable and empower people to take action to preserve, protect, strengthen and improve public education.

There’s no sugar coating it—Americans are facing an existential threat to our rights and our public education system. There is a path forward focused on resistance and persistence around the values and aspirations that bind all of us.

In the end, it’s a question of what kind of country we want. Should we settle for some children getting the education they need and deserve, but not all? Do we want a country where income determines whether people will have access to the healthcare they need, or the higher education they want, or a retirement with dignity?

We, the people, have to be the check and balance on the threats to our democracy. It is we, the people, who must reclaim the promise of public education. This work can’t be outsourced. It takes all of us.

CTF’s new president talks family, presidency, and Bob Marley

By Candide Uyanze

If given the chance, H. Mark Ramsankar says he would engage in a one-hour conversation with an unlikely inspiration: Bob Marley.

H. Mark Ramsankar

Unlikely because, initially, one probably wouldn’t expect the new president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) to draw inspiration from the late Jamaican artist. Ramsankar, however, believes Marley’s personal values transcend career differences.

“When you look at who he was, and what he meant to music, in the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica, he took insurmountable odds and took it to a global scale.”

Particularly, Ramsankar is impressed by Marley’s ability to turn a musical genre housed in a single island into a world movement. He believes this ability, when applied to the Federation, could help with carrying on an international stage the voices of the 232,000+ teachers CTF represents, and helping those teachers recognize the value of their collective voice.

H. Mark Ramsankar (bottom row, far left) poses here with CTF’s 2012-2013 Executive Committee at CTF’s 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Ramsankar knows especially well the importance of this. The father of two, former vice-principal and union leader first heard about teachers’ unions as a young Albertan educator in the late 80s. A presentation on having active involvement in one’s professional organisation led Ramsankar to conduct further research and get involved with his teachers’ association at the local, provincial, and, subsequently, national levels. In 2012, when he was vice-president of The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), Ramsankar was elected to the CTF Executive Committee. The following year, he was elected president to the ATA a position he held until 2017. In 2016, he was elected CTF president-designate, a transitional role to prepare for his presidency in 2017.

CTF President H. Mark Ramsankar (left) and Past President Heather Smith (right) at the CTF’s 2017 AGM. Ramsankar is signing the changeover documents.

In terms of preparation for his new role, Ramsankar says he has been taking advice indirectly from past CTF presidents over the years by observing their actions and words. They have also encouraged him to be who he is and carry his voice with passion and integrity. He also draws inspiration from leaders with different characteristics, believing there is no singular, right or wrong way to do things.

Ramsankar acknowledges the strong leadership CTF has had over the years. “Will I be able to hold up my end, so to speak? I’m working towards that. I really hope I can. There are areas I continue to work on.”

“But I guess the number one thing I’ll miss about Alberta is my family. It’s going to be tough, but it’s a hurdle that we’re going to work to overcome.”

When asked what he looks forward to the most in his two-year position, the new president cites growing as an individual, representing the country and teaching profession, as well as tackling topics and issues affecting Canadian teachers and public education.

In terms of the next steps in his new role, Ramsankar says he must learn more about the inner-workings of CTF, know about all the responsibilities and commitments the position will entail, determine the most pressing issues that were highlighted during CTF’s annual Forum and AGM, and think about how to set up better coordinated communication between Member organizations among themselves and with CTF.

Finally, throughout his three decades of experience in schools and teachers’ associations, Ramsankar believes the skills that shine through in each of his leadership positions are bringing people together under a common goal as well as working for and serving the people he represents.

“Those are some of the things that I’m prepared to do and bring to CTF.”

H. Mark Ramsankar (center-right) stands with his Member organization, ATA, at CTF’s 2016 AGM.

(Candide Uyanze worked as a CTF communications assistant during the summer of 2017)

Past President of national teachers’ federation reflects on presidency, career

By Candide Uyanze

Heather-Smith1On July 14, 2017, at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation’s (CTF) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ottawa, Heather Smith signed the documents which officially declared the changeover from her role as President of the CTF onto H. Mark Ramsankar. Smith, a former New Brunswick principal and elementary teacher of 35 years, served her term as President from 2015 to 2017.

A week before the end of her term, Smith agreed to an interview reflecting upon her presidency, career, and life.

Uyanze: Tell us about your upbringing.

Smith: I am the youngest of three children born to two parents who were inspiring role models of community service. My father and brother are both inductees into sports halls of fame, my father at the provincial level and my brother at the municipal, for their years of work in organization of various sports. My parents were volunteers on school boards, municipal councils, our church and a myriad of volunteer boards. It only seemed natural that I would also get involved in volunteering and in my case it was, for the large part, within my profession.

Almost 40 years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma and underwent a year of both chemotherapy and radiation treatments. At 18 years old, it had a profound impact on my university career and on my outlook on life. I am fortunate that my family had the means for monthly travel from New Brunswick to Toronto for treatment and that my mother was able to put her life on hold to be with me on the vast majority of these trips. As a result of this experience, I really don’t ‘sweat the small stuff’! I appreciate the time I have been given to live my life and that has had impact on the choices I have made.

My mother has been a great role model for my sister and me. My sister was President of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and we both give credit to our mother for having the confidence to take on any challenge with which she was presented. My mother was a journalist for the two provincial papers in New Brunswick in a time when most news reporters were male, but that did not deter her from pursuing the career she had chosen. My sister and I never felt we were less capable than our brother and we were inspired by the role model that our mother was and still is, actually. My mother is 87 and she still golfs, plays badminton and writes the odd news story for her church or the Bathurst Branch of the New Brunswick Scottish Cultural Association.

Uyanze: Describe your professional path.

Smith: I returned to Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax once I was in remission and completed my Bachelor of Child Study in 1982 with majors in Elementary and Special Education. I accepted a Grade 4 teaching position in the small village of McAdam where I met my husband and had the first two of our three children. Interestingly, I was told by doctors at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto that, due to the location of my radiation treatments, I would not be able to have children! I taught in McAdam for seven years before moving to my hometown of Bathurst in northeast NB.

I was a substitute teacher for two years before being hired to teach Kindergarten in the first year this grade was introduced to the NB education system. I taught Kindergarten as a solo teacher with a class of 27 children and as a team of two teachers with 52 five-year-olds. I loved team teaching and continued to seek other such opportunities.

My Principal suggested that I apply for the Leadership training offered by my School District and little did I know the impact this choice would have on my professional trajectory. This training boosted my confidence in my abilities as a teacher leader and provided me great opportunities.

I completed two years of distance education, studying and completing assignments while still teaching full time, and in 2006, was presented with a Master of Education in Literacy from Mount Saint Vincent University.

While working towards my Master degree, I was offered an eight-week Acting Principal position for a Principal on medical leave and found that I loved the balance of teaching and leading a team of educators. Over the next 13 years, I held Acting Vice-Principal and Principal positions and was Principal of a small rural school where I was able to teach and be administrator. After 35 years of teaching, I am retiring with no regrets.

Uyanze: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Smith: I enjoy reading, playing cards, being near the ocean and really spending as much time with family as I can.

Heather-Smith2Uyanze: How did you get involved with CTF?

Smith: As President of NBTA from 2011-13, I was a member of the CTF Board of Directors. My interest in and awareness of the work of CTF went back to the six years before 2011, when I was a member of the NBTA Board of Directors, and the two years I was NBTA Vice-President.

I never had any intention of running for office in either NBTA or CTF but was encouraged by colleagues to do so. When we are presented with opportunities, the choices we make determine our career path. I was offered the possibility of running for the opportunity to represent fellow teachers because others saw leadership potential in me. I have never seen myself as a politician but, because others had confidence in my abilities, I put myself forward. I haven’t always won but it was never about me winning: it was about me putting myself forward as a choice for those voting. I still had a job that I loved, teaching and administrating at my school.

Uyanze: When you first started your term, what was your objective, what were your goals?

Smith: I have to honestly say that I didn’t have any goals other than to represent the high ideals of CTF on both a national and international stage. I wanted to develop a greater awareness in Canadian teachers of what CTF does on their behalf and what CTF has to offer to them as an individual teacher. I attempted to present myself as a classroom teacher with no greater abilities or skills than they each had and to encourage them to consider representing their colleagues as well.

Uyanze: Do you feel like you’ve accomplished that?

Smith: I’d like to think I have. In every speech I delivered I tried to be down to earth and to be down to earth to the listeners. I presented myself as a teacher first whether speaking within Canada or internationally because that is how I think of myself. I believe that the position of CTF President is less about me and more about how I can leverage my position to improve the daily lives of teachers and children in Canada.

Uyanze: How has the move from New Brunswick affected your family?

Smith: Two of my children had already begun their careers, as an Optometrist and a Museum Curator and my youngest was already away from home working towards her degree in Youth and Child Studies. My husband was able to work from home in Ottawa so there was not a huge impact on our family. However, our son left home for university after graduating from high school in 2001 and over the next 12 years he only spent a week in the summer and one at Christmas with us. He lives here in Ottawa so my involvement in CTF both as a Board member and as President has allowed us to spend more time with him and get to know him as an adult and not just as our son.

Heather-Smith3 Uyanze: What are your fondest memories as President of the CTF?

Smith: I loved working at CTF as the organization undertakes somewhat of a transformation under the capable leadership of Cassie Hallett, Secretary General. The CTF staff is committed and a real pleasure to work with. I have enjoyed meeting all the teachers in the Member organizations of CTF on their ‘home turf’. I loved being immersed in the culture of each organization and listening to the debate on the issues that are important to them. It is the people that I have met that I enjoyed most.

I have also enjoyed representing Canadian teachers internationally. Again, it is the people you meet and get to work with that invoke the fondest memories.

Uyanze: How did you find this experience?

Smith: I thoroughly enjoy learning. It is a huge step to move from talking about what you know—the education system in my own province of New Brunswick— to learning the files that CTF works on at the national and international level. I liked having to learn more about how the federal government operates and how best to strategize to achieve our goals.

Heather-Smith4Uyanze: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at the beginning of your term, what would you say?

Smith: Strive to be more organized! Keep more lists! Be more aggressive with follow-up after initial meetings with federal politicians, civil servants and other national organizations.

Uyanze: Do you feel like you’ve changed since the beginning of your term? If so, how?

Smith: I don’t really feel like I’ve changed… at least I hope I haven’t. I think of myself as a very down to earth person and I hope that being in this position has not changed that. Personally I feel more confident talking with those I do not know but that is not a change, really.

Uyanze: Is there anything you would do differently?

Smith: I don’t think I would change anything except that I would love to be in this position at CTF for a little bit longer. I am sure that every person in this position would say the same thing but I really feel that in my second year as President, I have developed some relationships that I would love to have the opportunity to deepen for the benefit of CTF. I also feel that CTF is entering a time of great opportunity in relation to its relationship with the federal government and I would love to be part of that.

heather-smith5.jpgUyanze: Do you have any words of advice for the next President?

Smith: Be organized and keep lists. Follow up on meetings. Put CTF first for the two years you are in this position. Always take the high road. Remember that this is not about you as President but is about advocating for what is best for the Canadian teachers we represent and for the children they teach. For the two years you are President, you have no personal public opinions; your public views are those of the organization and you need to listen to the advice of the CTF staff.

Uyanze: What will you miss the most?

Smith: I will miss the people, those I have met through my time as President and those with whom I have worked closely with here at CTF. I will miss the fast pace of the position and the opportunity to have a positive impact for Canadian teachers, students and education.

Uyanze: What is next for you?

Smith: I will retire as of July 31st and move back to the Maritimes. I have lived most of my life in New Brunswick but we just bought a condo this spring in Nova Scotia, on the Northumberland Strait, and I look forward to seeing many sunsets over the ocean. I also look forward to seeing many fewer sunrises! My husband is a teacher as well and we have always said how we would look to teach overseas when we retire, so who knows? That just might be in our future too! We love to travel, so I’m sure we will visit many new countries in the coming years. I know I will look for volunteer opportunities in my new community because that is what I was brought up doing and what I have always done.

Editor’s note: Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

(Candide Uyanze worked as a communications assistant during the summer of 2017)

Canadian Teachers’ Federation applauds repeal of anti-labour legislation

June 15, 2017

Ottawa – The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is celebrating the adoption of Bill C-4, the legislation that repeals the previous Conservative government’s Bill C‑377 introduced in 2012 and Bill C‑525 adopted in 2014.

“We applaud the Liberal government for living up to its electoral promise by repealing these anti-labour and undemocratic laws,” says CTF President Heather Smith. “Teacher organizations were among the many labour groups targeted by Bill C-377 which had been pushed quickly through the House of Commons with little debate and no consultation with labour. These measures triggered the CTF “Hear my voice” advocacy campaign with the goal of strengthening the teacher voice in labour rights,” Smith adds.

The Federation also rallied to support the Canadian Labour Congress campaign and joined the chorus of opposition expressed by police associations, the federal privacy commissioner, the Canadian Bar Association and seven provinces who called C‑377 unconstitutional and argued it would cost millions for the federal government to enforce.

“This is wonderful news for democracy and human rights,” concludes Smith.

Founded in 1920, CTF is a national alliance of provincial and territorial Member organizations that represent over 232,000 teachers across Canada. CTF is also an affiliate of the 32-million member Education International. @CanTeachersFed


Media contact:

Francine Filion, Director of Communications, 613-688-4314

A union collaboration to promote

For several years, the Syndicat national des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur (SNESS) and the Syndicat national des enseignants africains du Burkina (SNEA-B) have been collaborating with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). This partnership between Burkina Faso and Canada offers teachers from both countries a wonderful opportunity to learn, share their knowledge, discuss, and renew their commitment to their profession and respective unions.

CTF is committed to defending public education, promoting the teaching profession, and providing support to Member organizations, affiliate members of Education International, and teachers across Canada. The Federation addresses social issues that have an impact on the health and well-being of children and youth in Canada and abroad.

Together, SNESS, SNEA-B and CTF have developed activities for 2017-18 for teachers in Burkina Faso with one common goal: to improve education for all — girls, boys, teachers, and union members. These activities are based on capacity building and gender equality.

CTF is proud to partner with SNESS and SNEA-B.

Claudia Guidolin
Consultant for CTF