Women teachers take the lead

The Canadian Teachers Federation/La Féderation canadienne des enseignantes et enseignants (CTF-FCE) invites its members across Canada to the Women’s Symposium on June 3, hosted by the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF). This year’s symposium also features a rare opportunity for participants to engage in a global event, the Women Deliver Conference 2019 from June 3–6.

The Women Deliver Conference, which runs every three years, will bring together more than 6,000 leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists from around the world to fast track progress for girls and women worldwide.

“With Women Deliver being an international event focused on the empowerment of women, it was the ideal opportunity to hold the Symposium in conjunction with it. The CTF-FCE has been very involved with the Women Deliver Mobilization as a consortium member” says Heidi Yetman, vice president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

“The conference is centred on women in leadership in teacher organizations. This topic is not only timely, but one which many of us have experienced and agonized over,” she adds.

Women and leadership

The 2019 CTF-FCE Women’s Symposium celebrates women in leadership roles and hopes to be the catalyst that encourages other women in joining in.

“When women are at the table making policy, things improve for the whole of society,” says Yetman.

Although they are two different events, the Women’s Symposium and the Women Deliver Conference are taking place back-to-back. All of the delegates at the Symposium are also attending the Women Deliver Conference.

Last year, the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation hosted the Women’s Symposium 2018 in Charlottetown. It examined challenges and successes that women in leadership roles within teacher organizations face. Attendees of the conference were able to exchange ideas and strategies regarding election campaigns, work/life balance, collective bargaining, and mentorship initiatives.

The CTF-FCE also has a program called Imagineaction which addresses social justice and youth leadership. The program provides opportunities for teachers and students to create and implement community activities and projects, which advance areas related to human rights, social justice, democracy, and the environment.

BCTF’s comeback

Leaving the CTF-FCE’s fold in 2008, the BCTF re-entered the organisation in July 2016.

According to their website, “It’s very clear that teachers, students, the profession, and public education across the country are increasingly facing the same issues, issues which require a unified national response. The BCTF not only has a lot to contribute to this response and to the national organization, it has a great deal to gain from active participation within the CTF-FCE and with other provincial teacher organizations.”

Their website also notes that the BCTF was a key player in the formation of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in 1920. There were two fundamental issues that lead to the BC Teachers’ Federation leaving the Canadian Teachers’ Federation in 2008. The first one was CTF-FCE’s failure to ensure fairness and equity for all member organizations. The second one was its escalating membership fees.

In the early 2000s, the B.C. Teacher’s Federation was facing major budget problems caused by loss of members due to government contract stripping. Fee increases continued to pass at annual general meetings run by the CTF-FCE. The BCTF was by then facing escalating expenditures, in excess of $800,000.

In 2016, after a unanimous decision, the CTF- FCE welcomed the BC Teachers’ Federation back as a member.

An opportunity to teach overseas

Another venture from the Canadian Teachers’ Federation is Project Overseas. Every year, the CTF-FCE looks for both English and French-speaking Canadian teachers at the primary, elementary, and secondary levels who are interested in volunteering their time in partnership with teacher organizations in developing countries. Over fifty Canadian teachers are chosen annually to volunteer for the CTF-FCE ’s Project Overseas in African and Caribbean countries.

“PO is a fantastic program that enables teachers to collaborate with fellow public educators across international borders,” says CTF-FCE president H. Mark Ramsankar on their website. “The opportunity to exchange information and resources allows teachers to learn from one another, and practice integrating these skills into classrooms around the world.”

Project Overseas has been running since 1962. Its primary aims are to strengthen teacher competence, give assistance to overseas partner organizations as they strengthen their capacity to provide professional services to their members, address gender equality for teachers, assist in the development of female-friendly school environments, and work to eliminate school-based gender violence.

“This is a professional development opportunity for both the Canadian teachers and the local in-country teachers,” says the CTF. The 2019 Project Overseas will be bringing educational assistance to girls in Uganda, Africa. Some of the BCTF’s teachers will likely be participating in the 2019 instalment of the Project Overseas program.

No one from the BCTF replied to The Source’s questions by press time.

For more information, please visit www.ctf-fce.ca/en/Pages/Events/Womens-Symposium-2019.aspx and www.wd2019.org.