Seeds of Social Justice—December 2016



This year, more than ever, we have seen the need to continue to advocate for the respectful, non-violent, and inclusive treatment of women. Some people believe that women’s rights are now a done deal. However, the fact that almost half of American voters elected a man who made countless misogynistic remarks against women throughout his campaign and bragged about sexually abusive behaviour confirms the need to continue working toward this goal.

Unfortunately, misogyny is not limited to our neighbours south of the border; teachers have been reporting increased use of antifeminist slurs in their schools in the past few weeks. The election results appear to be indicating to people that they have permission to voice the hateful views against women that they may have felt—but not expressed—in the past. Alberta MLA Sandra Jansen was brave enough to tell her colleagues in the legislature about the fierce misogyny she has experienced. This CBC articleon Jansen’s testimony warns readers of language that some may find offensive. We would hope that everyone finds this language not only offensive, but inexcusable.

This issue of Seeds of Social Justice highlights some of the resources the BCTF Status of Women Action Group and their allies have produced to support students and teachers in developing positive, inclusive attitudes toward women. Strategies underway to make the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and our local teachers’ associations inclusive spaces for women are also featured in this edition. 

 calendar World AIDS Day is held on December 1 to raise awareness and support for people living with HIV AIDS, and unite us all in the fight against this illness. The Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange provides free downloadable teaching resources in English and French.

On December 2, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, consider using some of the human trafficking resources on the Status of Women’s Dates, Advocacy, and Action page  or read the article “Stolen Lives” in the Summer/Fall Social Justice Newsletter.

December 2 is also CBC Food Bank Day. Schools are often engaged in food bank drives just before Christmas as a form of social responsibility. While food banks meet an immediate and real need, antipoverty advocacy groups have expressed concerns that food banks—which were created as a temporary measure—fail to address the underlying causes of poverty. For an understanding of a variety of perspectives on food banks, listen to this CBC radio panel discussion. The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition #Rethinkgiving web page offers a number of teaching resources to involve your students in reflecting and taking action toward more systemic responses to poverty in BC. Read Antipoverty Action Group member Bhearni McAleer’s perspective on food banks in this edition of Seeds of Social Justice
 dac The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want. The theme is based on the role of the Sustainable Development Goals in creating a more equitable world for people with disabilities. On December 3, consider engaging your class in an analysis of these goals and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 endviolence December 1–10 is a continuation of the 16 Days of Action for Ending Violence against Women. The BCTF resourceWhat you can do provides a list of recommended activities for these dates.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on December 6 falls on the 17th anniversary of the massacre of female students at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal. This lesson plan includes three activities that help students from grades 7 to 12 learn key issues and identify actions they can take to help eliminate violence against women.

 amnesty December 10 is Human Rights Day. Consider involving your class in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Campaign.

International Migrants’ Day is on December 18. For a variety of reasons, many families living in BC have no official immigration status. Fear of deportation prevents many families from enrolling their children in schools.

The BCTF supports the sanctuary school campaign, which advocates for allowing parents to enroll their children in school without proof of residency. Learn about this campaign on the School for All Facebook page. The section “Getting a Local Policy Passed” on the BCTF member portal contains information and resources to support you in advocating for a sanctuary school policy in your district.
Bountiful Trial

by Kristin Quigley, Status of Women Action Group

An important trial in the BC Supreme Court concerning domestic human trafficking began on November 22, 2016. It will focus on the activities of three people: Brandon Blackmore, James Oler, and Emily Crossfield. All three are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a religious group that practises polygamy in the community of Bountiful, located near Creston, BC. They stand accused of illegally transporting underage girls across the United States border to become child brides. It is hoped that this trial leads to a conviction, preventing the FLDS members from any future efforts to traffic underage girls for the purposes of polygamous marriages.
 timeline Use the recently updated International Women’s Day timeline in your classrooms to celebrate the progress women have made in the struggle to obtain equal rights. Find this and other resources on the BCTFStatus of Women web pages. To request hard copies of posters and booklets, email


The Violence against Women Curriculum—teacher’s kit provides a lesson plan to support students in developing a framework to analyse issues of gender equity and violence against women, and to identify the connections between these two issues. Find this resource and other useful tools and information on the website of the British Columbia chapter of the We Can End All Violence against Women Coalition.
 sexed This BCTF workshop provides participants with essential information about sexual health. The topic of consent is discussed in detail. Workshop participants will become familiar with several recommended resources and some fundamental strategies for teaching the mandated sexual health curriculum to BC students at all grade levels in public schools. A follow up workshop will be available soon.
 youthrelation This workshop reveals many of the sexualized influences from media and culture on youth relationships. Teachers are provided with options to raise our youth’s awareness around these negative influences in order to seek healthier, more respectful relationships.
To request these or other social justice workshops for a school-based, local, or regional professional development day, or for a School Union Representative Training (SURT) day, please use the Faxback Workshop Request Form .
CASJ’s Status of Women action group invites you to support their Thank a Feminist For campaign. Consider liking their Facebook page and contributing to their conversation using #ThankAFeministFor.

#ThankAFeministFor stickers will be available soon. 

Equity and Inclusion and the Status of Women


Article E.1 in our provincial collective agreement states that school districts will express their commitment to a non-sexist environment and promote this environment through the “development, integration, and implementation of non-sexist education programs, activities, and learning resources for both staff and students.”

At their November 3, 2016, meeting, the BCTF Executive Committee carried a recommendation to draft language to improve Article E1. These improvements would include making the language gender-neutral and addressing the issue of domestic violence.

How well is your school district carrying out their obligation to fulfill Article E.1? 

 women-negotiations Despite the fact that women make up the vast majority of BCTF members, they are severely under-represented in local and provincial bargaining processes. The Women in Negotiations (WIN) initiative was launched this year in order to ensure that women are more equitably represented on bargaining teams leading up to the 2019 round of contract negotiations. To further this goal, 24 BCTF members were selected to become Women in Negotiations facilitators.
These women participated in training sessions at the BCTF Facilitators’ Institute Training in August and at the Federation Leadership Institute in November.

Members of the WIN team are ready to offer the Women in Negotiations SURT workshop. This SURT has been designed not only to engage more women in leadership roles in locals, but also to foster allies who will support these women in taking on those leadership roles. To request this workshop, please use the Faxback Workshop Request Form. 

Let’s Make Every Day Christmas for Food Banks

by Bhearni McAleer, Antipoverty Action Group

It’s Christmas! Lights on houses, apartments, condos…the hustle and bustle of shopping for gifts, and donations to the Christmas hamper or local food bank. Succulent slices of turkey, scrumptious scoops of carrots, baked yams, festive drinks, full bellies, the proverbial puddings, pies, cookies, and cakes! As we undo the buttons on our pants, we reflect that we’ve done it well! And we’ve made our donation to the poor. All is well in our world!

In most cases, food hamper drives occur around the Christmas season. At that time, we donate our non-perishable goods, toys, and money to the cause. We feel full in our hearts and quite satisfied with our contribution to helping the poor.

 foodbank Food banks do benefit from our generosity at this time of the year—but how many of us make a donation of money or goods at other times of the year? Food banks were meant to be a temporary, emergency measure, yet more and more people are increasingly dependent on the growing number of food banks as the years go by.

A single person on welfare receives $610 per month. After rent is deducted, the person must live on approximately $7.83 per day. Is this a life we want for some members of our society?

People receiving disability payment, those earning minimum wage, and postsecondary students may all depend on food banks when their funds don’t stretch any further. It is important to note that BC is the only province or territory with no poverty reduction plan—something to keep in mind come election time.

Food banks are a social band-aid, but they have become a necessity. That said, we must remember that food banks need to be replenished on a regular basis, not just in the season of peace and joy. Let’s make every day Christmas for food banks. 

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding, sustained contribution toward social justice within the BCTF, local teachers’ association, school, or community? Consider nominating them for a Bob Rosen Social Justice Award. Award winners are selected by the BCTF Executive Committee and honoured at the BCTF Annual General Meeting.

For an application form, visit the Grants and Funds page on the BCTF social justice web pages. The deadline to submit nominations is January 31, 2017

Barb Ryeburn
Assistant Director of Social Justice
BC Teachers’ Federation
100-550 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V5S 4P2
Toll free: 1-800-663-9163

To unsubscribe, click here: