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.
We are pleased to announce the publication of Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization; inspired by a 2016 speaking tour by Arthur Manuel, less than a year before his untimely passing in January 2017. The book contains two essays from Manuel, described as the Nelson Mandela of Canada, and essays from renowned Indigenous writers Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Russell Diabo, Beverly Jacobs, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Kanahus Manuel, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Pamela Palmater, Shiri Pasternak, Nicole Schabus, Senator Murray Sinclair, and Sharon Venne. FPSE is honoured to support this publication.
Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization will be available free to the public as an e-book Thursday March 15, 2018, at 7pm PST. Authors will be speaking at a series of events throughout BC following the book's release.
Taiaiake Alfred holds a PHD from Cornell University and is an author, educator and activist from Kahnawake and internationally recognized Kanien’kehaka professor at the University of Victoria. He was the founding director of the Indigenous Governance Program and was awarded a Canada Research Chair 2003–2007, in addition to a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in education. He is the author of Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom, Peace, Power, Righteousness: an Indigenous Manifesto, and Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors.
Glen Coulthard (PhD – University of Victoria) is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and an Associate Professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Department of Political Science. He has written and published numerous articles and chapters in the areas of Indigenous thought and politics, contemporary political theory, and radical social and political thought. His book, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (University of Minnesota Press), was released in August 2014 to critical acclaim.
Russell Diabo is one of the leading voices in the decolonial struggle in Canada. He was for many years a policy advisor at the Assembly of First Nations and now serves in that role for the Algonquin Nation Secretariat, and he is Senior Policy Advisor to the Algonquin Wolf Lake First Nation. He is also editor and publisher of an online newsletter on First Nations political and legal issues, the First Nations Strategic Bulletin. He is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, and part of the Defenders of the Land Network.
Beverly Jacobs, LL.B., LL.M., PhD Candidate (ABD) is a Kanien’kehaka citizen, Bear Clan, and member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She practises law part-time at Six Nations and is currently an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor. She is a former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (2004–2009) and is best known for her work on advocating for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo is a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation. She is currently a Fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation. She worked as a Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environmental Network for the past decade. Facing firsthand the impacts of the Alberta tar sands to her traditional territory, Laboucan-Massimo has been a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights for over 15 years. She has written numerous articles on the tar sands and produced short documentaries on water issues and Indigenous cultural revitalization.
Arthur Manuel was one of the giants of the Indigenous movement within Canada and internationally. He served as chief of his Neskonlith Indian band and chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council as well as co-chair of the North American and Global Indigenous Caucus at the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples. He was also co-author, along with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, of the award-winning book Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call. Arthur Manuel passed away in January 2017. Lorimer Press published his second book, co-authored with Grand Chief Derrickson, in the fall of 2017.
Kanahus Manuel is a Secwepemc and Ktunaxa activist, birth keeper and Warrior. She appeared in a documentary film made by Doreen Manuel called Freedom Babies. She is well known for her activism against Sun Peaks Ski Resort, Imperial Metals and the Mount Polley mine spill and with the water protectors at Standing Rock. She is currently playing a leadership role in fighting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion through more than 500 kilometres of Secwepemc territory. As a result of her activism, she has been named in several court injunctions and has been jailed by the Canadian state.
Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour is a band member at Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc and is the elected family member to the Traditional Family Governance Council for the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation. He teaches at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. His primary course is Aboriginal Decolonizing Social Work Practice. He regularly contributes to the international two-spirit community through writing, art and other activism(s) and he will be beginning his doctoral work in winter 2018 through a cohort program and partnership between TRU and the Auckland University of Technology in Aotearoa (New Zealand) – decentering social work practice with Secwepemc land and spiritual based pedagogies.
Pamela Palmater is from the Mi’kmaw Nation and a member of the Eel River Bar First Nation. She has been a practising lawyer for eighteen years and currently holds the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. Pam is an activist and was one of the spokespeople, organizers and educators for the Idle No More movement. She is a well-known media commentator and public speaker who is often called before parliamentary and United Nations committees as an expert witness on Indigenous rights. She has numerous publications including her books Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity and Indigenous Nationhood: Empowering Grassroots Citizens.
Shiri Pasternak is the author of Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2017, about the Algonquins’ rejection of the federal land claims policy in Canada from the perspective of Indigenous law and jurisdiction. She holds a PhD from the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto and is currently an Assistant Professor of Criminology at Ryerson University, Toronto.
Nicole Schabus is an assistant law professor at Thompson Rivers University. She has worked for Indigenous peoples in Latin America and across Canada, especially in the Interior of British Columbia. Nicole has been practising law in British Columbia in the fields of constitutional, criminal, Aboriginal and environmental law. She also reports on and analyzes international environmental negotiations, mainly under the Convention on Biological Diversity. She has assisted with the preparation of submissions to numerous UN human rights bodies for organizations with consultative status before the United Nations. She drafted amicus curiae submissions for Indigenous peoples that were accepted by with World Trade Organization and NAFTA international trade tribunals.
Senator Murray Sinclair
Senator Murray Sinclair served as Co-chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba and as Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As head of the TRC, he participated in hundreds of hearings across Canada, culminating in the issuance of the TRC’s landmark report in 2015. Previously, Senator Sinclair served the justice system in Manitoba for over twenty-five years. He was the first Aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba and he was very active within his profession and his community. He has won numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Award (2001) and its Distinguished Service Award (2016), and has received honorary doctorates from eight Canadian universities. Senator Sinclair was appointed to the Senate on April 2, 2016.
Sharon Venne is a lawyer and member of the Cree Nation who has worked on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and with First Nations communities on the implementation of their own legal systems. She has played an active role in the national and international struggles of many Indigenous peoples, including the Lubicon Cree and Dene Nation. She has a Masters of Law degree from the University of Alberta, and is presently a doctoral candidate, writing a thesis on treaty rights of Indigenous peoples and international law.
Today’s budget confirms the change in direction this government began last August to improve affordability and choice in our post-secondary system,” said FPSE President George Davison. “By removing some of the largest financial barriers to post-secondary education, and adding program choice to institutions in communities across BC, this government is reversing the concerning trend in post-secondary where access was decreasing as it becomes more crucial for today’s economy.”
The budget provides $21 million dollars to the post-secondary system in affordability measures for learners such as tuition waivers for former youth in care and tuition-free Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning classes. Also added: $30 million in new dollars for additional supports for former youth in care. Industry Training Authority funding is continued at the same level: within that budget more funding will be available for under-represented groups. The government anticipates that 78% of future jobs will require post-secondary education.
“Clearly, this government recognizes the key role that post-secondary education plays in our society and economy, and our federation welcomes the actions taken to address this crucial affordability issue,” continued Davison. “After 16 years of uneven funding that downloaded an unsustainable burden on to students and their families, more changes are needed to ensure that students of every age and income are able to return to school or attend post-secondary for the first time, and receive the support they need to succeed. We are committed to working with the government to find every opportunity to make post-secondary more affordable and comprehensive.”
FPSE also applauded new spending aimed at addressing affordability issues experienced by members across BC, through $1 billion in child care and early learning over 3 years (including increasing the number of spaces to train early childhood educators), $6.5 billion in homes and housing supports over 10 years, and the elimination of MSP fees effective January 1, 2020.
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for 10,000 faculty and staff in teaching universities, colleges, and institutes across BC.
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For more information:
Nicole Seguin, Communications Officer, FPSE
With 2018 well underway, and the second legislative session of the new government about to begin, it’s a good time to take stock of the changes that have been made, and how we will focus our efforts over the year ahead. As a history professor, I also cannot pass up on the opportunity to place this moment into historical context as we cannot know where we are going until we remind ourselves of where we have been.
Last year’s election delivered a rare and unexpected election result that forced a change in government after 16 years. The previous government came into power in 2001, and within a year had passed legislation that attacked collective bargaining rights in the healthcare and education sectors. Much of this legislation has now been struck down, but only after extensive legal battles fought with taxpayer dollars. New restrictions were introduced regarding who could sit on the boards of post-secondary institutions, unfairly removing the ability for faculty to elect who they want for boards of governors. We also saw extensive privatization; in post-secondary education this translated into record-high tuition fees to make up for government underfunding.
In short, the previous government prioritized policies that best fit with their ideology rather than the law or improving public service delivery. This approach was clearly illustrated when they stopped funding Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning (ABE and ELL) classes, forcing learners to pay up to $1600 per term for language and high school upgrading classes that had previously been tuition-free.
Our federation was deeply concerned about this trend, and launched our Open the Doors campaign in response. Our members are educators across the system, and could not sit back and watch the negative effects on students and faculty from the uneven and unsustainable funding. In fact, at this time last year we were busy making sure that post-secondary education would be a prominent issue in the election. Thanks to our 10,000 members and activists across BC, our campaign proved to be successful.
In the course of just 6 months, the new government responded to our years of advocacy and made significant changes to address some systemic barriers to post-secondary education:
- The government made ABE and ELL tuition-free;
- Tuition waivers were introduced for former youth-in-care; and
- Interest rates on student loans were lowered from prime+2.5% to prime
Over the fall, our FPSE Executive and Presidents’ Council reflected on these successes, and identified some priorities to focus on over the coming months. These include calling for governance changes to remove undemocratic barriers to faculty participation on boards, identifying the scope and scale of the challenges posed by the current underfunding model, and bringing attention to the unfair treatment and pay of contract faculty at institutions across BC.
We’re also continuing our Open the Doors campaign to make post-secondary more affordable. We’ll be taking a closer look at all developmental programs offered in BC to identify any remaining barriers that are preventing learners from taking the next step in their education.
As we take action on these priorities, a key measure of our success will be meaningful progress on reconciling, decolonizing and Indigenizing our schools and communities through implementing the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We’re working to support our newly formed Decolonization, Reconciliation and Indigenization Committee to update our policies, practices, and advocacy. As Senator Murray Sinclair has said, "Education is what got us into this mess … but education is the key to reconciliation."
Post-secondary education has the power to transform lives – not only through more stable economic prospects, but also through exposing people to new ways of thinking and being engaged citizens.
As we wait to hear from the government on their overall priorities for the spring session and see what the first full budget from the new government looks like, I am reminded that our current situation took over 16 years to develop. For almost two decades, the public benefits of affordable, comprehensive post-secondary education were deprioritized in favour of photo-ops that did nothing to increase access to education for those most in need.
When I think about everything that has changed in just a year, I am hopeful for all that we can achieve in the next 5, 10, and 25 years. With every additional person able to attend post-secondary through public investment in their education, we demonstrate that it is possible to reverse the underfunding of post-secondary education. By continuing our dedicated advocacy toward making our post-secondary system better, I know that we can make post-secondary more affordable and widely available for generations to come.
This has been quite a year, for FPSE, and for BC. From our Open the Doors Days of Action in January, to a new government sworn in after 16 years, to Minister Melanie Mark meeting with our Presidents’ Council in Victoria, 2017 has been a whirlwind of activity and change.
Here’s a brief look back at what we’ve been able to accomplish together:
January – Locals in all corners of the province held Days of Action as part of our Open the Doors campaign. People signed our Education Pledge, and shared the campaign with their friends and colleagues.
February – Open the Doors ads circulated in newspapers, on the radio waves, and via social media.
March – We took the Open the Doors campaign to Victoria. Thanks to Rob Fleming, then Advanced Education Critic, for presenting over 25,000 signatures in the legislature.
April – We held our largest campaign Telephone Town Hall where thousands joined us for a live discussion around the changes we need in post-secondary education.
May – The BC election produced an extremely rare result, and we held our FPSE AGM in Victoria. At the end of the month, the NDP and Green Party signed a Confidence and Supply Agreement.
June – Premier Christy Clark met the Legislature, presented a Speech from the Throne that looked like the NDP & Green platforms, and lost a vote of non-confidence. The Lieutenant-Governor asked John Horgan to form government, which he did.
July – The new government was sworn in on July 18.
August – At Camosun College, Premier John Horgan, Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark, and Education Minister Rob Fleming announced that Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning programs would again be tuition-free.
September – At Vancouver Island University, Premier John Horgan, Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark and Katrina Conroy, Minister for Children and Families, announced that former youth in care would now be able to access tuition waivers for any public post-secondary institution in BC. Ten days later, Finance Minster Carole James released the government's first budget update, putting $19 million towards ABE/ELL tuition.
October – Our Presidents’ Council went to Victoria and met with Minister Melanie Mark. It was a positive conversation, and we look forward to continuing the discussion around ways we can make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible, and the system more sustainable, next year.
November – College faculty were legislated back to work by the Ontario Liberal government after employers refused to come to a fair settlement with workers that led to a five-week strike. While the post-secondary landscape differs between BC and Ontario, we have both seen growth in precarious part-time work for educators, which poses problems for the entire post-secondary system.
December – our new FPSE committee focused on decolonization, reconciliation, and Indigenization in post-secondary met for the first time. I’d like to thank each of these committee members for sharing their knowledge and passion with us, and congratulate Sharon McIvor and Justin Wilson on being elected co-chairs of the committee.
With all we’ve been able to accomplish this year, I can’t wait to begin 2018. Enjoy a safe and happy holiday season and new year!