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December 6th marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, a day marked by the tragic Ecole Polytechnique mass shooting in Montreal in 1989. These women were killed because of their gender. While acts of mass violence are rare in Canada, women in every province and territory are affected by the vocal resurgence of hate groups around the world. This worrying trend underlines the importance of December 6th: to demonstrate our remembrance through action against hatred and violence.
The recognition that sexism and racism are sometimes combined, not separate issues, is important to our collective work to reject intolerance. Just as we must recognize that violence against women continues, we must also recognize that women can and are affected by racial bigotry as well. The combination of sexism and racism is especially apparent in health and wellbeing outcomes for Indigenous women: discrimination and the threat of violence are felt in policing, our judicial system, in our homes – and in our classrooms.
Faculty know this: that’s why delegates made “addressing racism and promoting anti-racist strategies” one of our federation’s strategic goals at our AGM in May.
There are a vast number of ways to make a difference and reject sexism. Here are just a few things you can do at the individual and collective level to make your classroom, campus, and community a safer space for all:
- Look at your curriculum: are you including works or reference to female academics, including female academics with disabilities, or female academics of colour? This is especially important if you do not identify within these groups, as promoting these academics tends to disproportionately fall to those who are themselves experiencing oppression and violence.
- Do your female colleagues, and/or colleagues of colour feel supported and safe in their work? How diverse is the faculty, operational staff and management?
- Check with your local faculty association to see if they have a Status of Women committee (FPSE policy 7.11). If not, join with your colleagues to create one.
- Finally – continue to connect your feminism with anti-racism and anti-discrimination. If you do not see a gender or racialized group represented in the governance structures around you, ask why. You may be able to identify, and help remove, a barrier that is allowing inequality to persist.
December 6 falls within the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign with the goal of ending gender-based violence. It began on November 25, the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, International Human Rights Day. I urge you to use this campaign as an opportunity to raise issues of sexist and/or racist policies, procedures or cultures with your union.
It is not enough to remember these victims of violence, or to acknowledge the discrimination that persists for millions of Canadians, and people around the world. We must use our place(s) of privilege – as union members, as educators, and any number of other demographic factors – to dismantle these structures and practices that keep people oppressed and subject to hatred, violence, and fear. Whether subtle or overt, intolerance is making our colleagues, students, family members and friends suffer. This is unignorable and unacceptable and it will take all of us working together to make a difference.
Vancouver, BC, Nov 19, 2018 – The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC have endorsed Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore in their bid for the positions of BC Federation of Labour president and secretary-treasurer.
“I can’t think of a better team to be able to continue the work of the BCFED under outgoing president and secretary-treasurer Irene Lanzinger and Aaron Ekman than Laird and Sussanne. Their complementary skills and experiences make them the right candidates to take on the leadership of the BCFED,” said FPSE president George Davison.
“The BCFED provides an important voice for the workers of our province and has proved to be an effective advocate for both union and non-union workers through campaigns like Fight for 15. I would like to thank Irene and Aaron for their thoughtful and principled leadership which has served our movement and our province so well,” continued Davison.
FPSE secretary-treasurer Terri Van Steinburg added that Laird and Sussanne’s private and public sector union knowledge, as well as their history of supporting social justice movements, are the right combination at the right time.
“Laird and Sussanne’s depth of knowledge of all aspects of the labour movement will be a tremendous asset in making sure all workers in BC are respected and treated fairly. The previous government caused a lot of damage to protections that used to exist for workers. Laird and Sussanne know this and have shown their commitment to repairing this damage and making sure all people are safe, respected, and fairly compensated on the job. I’m proud to support their candidacy for BCFED president and secretary-treasurer,” concluded Van Steinburg.
FPSE represents 10,000 educators in BC public and private post-secondary institutions.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War 1. On Sunday, I’ll be joining with thousands across the province at Remembrance Day ceremonies to mark this milestone and remember the sacrifices of so many service people. Remembrance Day prompted profound dialogue in my history classrooms centred around the question: “How Canada edged from colony to nation, what was the impact on soldiers and Canadian society, and, to bring it up to date, how do we find a balance in responsible use and care for those in our military with our role in the global community to offer humanitarian aid and peacekeeping?” The importance of this question is only growing larger as our knowledge about the world increases, and the lasting impact of conflict is better understood over time.
This is yet another example of the influence of educators: you challenge students to think critically about how past events and decisions have brought us to the present day and to challenge their beliefs in the systems and structures of our country and the world.
But our influence and responsibility is greater than just to our students: we are only able to engage in our work because of the relative peace and stability offered by democracy. Despite the flaws of this process, it is still the best system of group decision-making we have found to move us forward towards a society of greater equality. This applies equally to our political representation and your representation in your union.
This brings us to a historic opportunity in BC: to move from a first-past-the-post electoral system, which allows governments to gain complete control with less than majority support, to a system that truly reflects all votes cast. That’s why our federation has endorsed voting yes to proportional representation, and why I urge you to do the same.
There are two problems inherent in how most people experience representative democracy: the feeling that your vote doesn’t “count,” and that most people only experience our democracy through voting once every 4 years without consideration beyond that action. The combination of proportional representation and post-secondary education can tackle both these problems.
Our education systems can teach students to be active, critical and engaged citizens. Most students are taught to be followers, i.e. good workers and consumers, but good, passive followers aren’t exactly good at holding governments accountable. So the work you do as educators (as union activists and faculty and staff at your institutions) to promote the democratic process and critical thinking and learning democracy is vital to an informed and engaged population. Thank you for the work you do to challenge and inform all post-secondary learners.
By voting ourselves, and encouraging those around us to participate in our political process and civil society, we can be part of creating a freer and fairer world. By doing this we remember the sacrifices made in the past and act on the responsibilities of the present.
You should have received your ballot last week – please mail in your ballot today so it is received by the 4:30 pm November 30 deadline! If you haven’t received your ballot, or need to learn more about what is being proposed, visit Elections BC.
Two weeks ago, the BC NDP government introduced Bill 36, allowing faculty union executive members to sit on their institution’s board. Despite opposition from the BC Liberals, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark held firm. The bill passed after a week of debate, and is now in effect.
This is a huge victory for faculty in BC
We advocated for this change from the moment the new government came in, and now, thanks to Premier John Horgan and Minister Mark, this unfair, anti-union legislation is off the books. Faculty will no longer be denied professional opportunities because of their union activism, and post-secondary boards will be all the better for hearing their voices.
Our work isn’t done
This Saturday, we will vote in local government elections, and the provincial referendum on proportional representation. I urge you to participate in both of these important opportunities! By voting in the municipal election, you’ll have your voice heard on the issues that matter to you. Affordability, housing, and education are crucial issues and the mayor, council, and school board you elect will determine actions taken on each.
The 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform is our chance to move to a voting system that works for people, one where 40 per cent of the vote means 40 per cent of the seats. In May, FPSE members voted to endorse proportional representation to make sure our votes count in every election.
Here’s how to participate:
- Read up on candidates for city council, school board and / or park board
- Your local labour council may have recommended candidates
- Election day is Saturday October 20, 2018
- Make sure you’re registered to vote –check your status with Elections BC
- This referendum is a mail-in ballot; voting packages will be mailed out starting October 22
- Vote by mail as soon as you receive your ballot (FREE)
There will be two questions. You do not need to answer both questions. The first question asks if we should keep the current first past the post voting system or move to proportional representation. We recommend voting to move to a system of proportional representation.
The second question asks voters to rank three proportional representation systems: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP). You do not need to answer this question. We recommend any of these voting systems – you can read about the benefits of each system here.
I’ll be voting in both of these elections and I hope you’ll join me! Let’s use our voices (and votes!) to make our communities and province better for educators and their families.
September 5, 2018 | Vancouver, BC—George Davison, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC, comments on this afternoon’s announcement by the Provincial and Federal government:
“Today’s announcements give more students the opportunity to become educators themselves, and builds on the partnership of the provincial and federal government to expand availability and affordability of post-secondary education across BC. The coupling of BC’s historic childcare plan with investment from both levels of government to expand access and affordability of public post-secondary early childhood education programs is exactly the boost our economy and society needs. Students, families, and communities will benefit from the connection between learning opportunities and local employment since 80% of future jobs will require post-secondary education. The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC commends both levels of government on the measures announced today that mean more people across BC will be able to pursue their dream of providing education for children across BC.”
Facts on post-secondary early childhood education
• Today’s announcement builds on additional early-childhood educator seats at post-secondary institutions across BC:
30 seats | College of the Rockies
24 seats | Selkirk College
24 seats | Vancouver Island University
12 seats | University of the Fraser Valley
24 seats | North Island College
12 seats | College of New Caledonia
72 seats | University of British Columbia
24 seats | Langara College
Total = 222 seats
George Davison is available to comment on today’s announcement.
Contact Nicole Seguin: Mobile 604-831-6684 | Email email@example.com
Today we recognize and celebrate Labour Day across BC and Canada. Over the course of almost 150 years, we have seen that when working people organize for better working conditions, quality of life for everyone in our society improves. Change may not be easy, but the gains achieved – reasonable working hours, the right to bargain collectively, the weekend, and paid maternity leave – have raised the standard of living in Canada for decades. However, an increase in low-wage, precarious work put these gains at risk. Now more than ever, we need to organize and stay united to insist on employment that gives every working person the dignity they deserve: a living wage and a balanced life.
We know this can be done. In 1983, union members, activists, and people from all walks of life joined together in a coordinated opposition to the devastating cuts proposed by the Social Credit government of the day. In July 1983, the government tabled 26 acts of legislation which attacked human, civil, and labour rights. The bills gave the government the ability to fire government employees without cause, rescind collective bargaining rights such as the ability to schedule overtime, and abolished the Human Rights Branch and Human Rights Commission. Operation Solidarity brought together working people in opposition to these cuts through a series of protests and strikes, and 5 months after the regressive legislation was introduced, labour peace was restored with the signing of the Kelowna Accord.
Operation Solidarity demonstrates what is possible when political, social, and labour action are combined. Here at FPSE, we know this to be true. You and your colleagues have made progress in difficult rounds of collective bargaining, contributed to the last year’s change in government, and participate in all manner of social justice movements. With public sector agreements expiring next spring, we’ll continue to work together at the bargaining table with our first round of bargaining with this government. By remembering the lessons of the past, we’ll be better prepared to make the most of our upcoming negotiations.
This Labour Day, we’ll join with other unions, educators and families from the Lower Mainland at the PNE Labour Day celebration. I encourage you to drop by a Labour Day event organized by your local Labour Council to celebrate with others in your community as we work together to create a more fair and just province.
Happy Labour Day!
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is concerned that the recent diplomatic exchange between Canada’s Foreign Affairs department and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has resulted in direction for all Saudi students to leave Canadian schools. This decision has resulted in the unfortunate interruption of the studies of hundreds of students in BC, and thousands across Canada, and has taken away the opportunity of classmates & communities to learn from the rich culture and history of Saudi Arabia.
FPSE commends the Canadian government for calling attention to human rights abuses, regardless of where they occur. FPSE advocates for affordable, accessible education for all regardless of income, gender, religion, political affiliation, or geographic region, and as such advocates for the recognition of human and civil rights in Canada and across the world as a necessary pre-condition required for broad and fair educational access. People of all nations are better equipped to navigate our interconnected global marketplace of ideas and industries with the ability to learn from, and in, other countries. Guided by this principle, FPSE consistently calls on all levels of government to expand access to education and to consider policy positions through a human and civil rights lens.
FPSE also acknowledges the tremendous contribution of Saudi students and scholars to our classes and institutions, and the benefits both Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have enjoyed through our educational and cultural exchanges and experiences for several decades. FPSE respectfully encourages the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reconsider the directive pertaining to students studying in Canada so we may continue and build upon this relationship.
Pride began as a protest, as community resistance to police raids on LGBT spaces in cities across North America. Today, pride is a celebration of how far LGBTQ/2S people have come, and a reminder of what’s still left to do. I’m inspired when individuals see the power of the collective and take action together because solidarity and community resistance are powerful tools for change.
Although the pace of change is sometimes frustrating, relentlessly pursuing a future of equality is showing results. Over the past two years, identity and gender expression protections have been added to the BC Human Rights Code and Canadian Human Rights Act. Last fall the BC NDP announced the re-establishment of the BC Human Rights Commission. We submitted a report to BC Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon, who oversaw a public engagement consultation to guide that process.
Human rights protections are crucial for LGBTQ/2S people, who experience discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, harassment, and violence at higher rates than others. Clearly, much remains to be done to end discrimination and hold those who perpetrate hate and violence accountable for their actions. We must remain politically active and involved to elect politicians who will keep up with the realities of our time, not roll the clock back on human rights (such as the recent move to reverse modernized sexual education curriculum by the new Ontario government). You can start by signing and sharing a MoveUP petition calling for Canadian Blood Services to end their discriminatory blood donor ban. Together, we can make a more equal future.
Most pride events today involve less protest and more parades, but keep the spirit of community resistance alive, and allow us to show solidarity with our LGBTQ/2S coworkers, friends, and neighbours. Everyone deserves to be safe and respected in their education, work, and day to day life. Many of you began teaching because of the profound difference education can make for marginalized communities; it is so good to work with you, and bring this spirit of openness, safety and inclusivity to post-secondary education. Every time you and your colleagues encourage a learning and working environment of inclusion and respect for LGBTQ/2S students and educators, you are making BC a better place to live and learn.
I hope many of you and your colleagues join pride celebrations around the province in solidarity with the LGBTQ/2S community.
Have a safe and happy pride! 🏳️🌈
Since 1996, we’ve recognized National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, the longest day of the year. Today we celebrate the many cultures and languages of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, and renew our commitment to healing from the trauma of the past while continuing our shared journey to reconciliation.
It’s been gratifying watching faculty and staff at BC’s post-secondary institutions heed the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by revising curriculums, reviewing pedagogies, and working everyday towards decolonizing our institutions. You have risen to the challenge of reconciliation and our federation shares your commitment through our FPSE Decolonization, Reconciliation, and Indigenization Standing Committee, which continues to look at procedures and structures that may also need to be decolonized. You promoted and shared our book Whose Land is it Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization, launched earlier this year.
As Senator Murray Sinclair said: “Education got us in to this mess, and education will get us out.” Through educating your students about residential schools, challenging your administration to engage in decolonization with faculty, staff, and students, and participating in your decolonization committees, we all move closer to reconciliation.
At our recent AGM, we renewed our commitment to the rights of Indigenous Peoples to sovereignty and self-determination. Let’s continue to be guided by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the TRC’s Calls to Action as we work to make education a tool of decolonization and reconciliation, today and every day.