In this episode, we look back one hundred years to Valentine's Day, 1921. On that traditional day of romance, a group of courageous public school teachers in New Westminster, BC did the unthinkable: they went on strike. Their walkout had a lasting, positive impact on teachers across the province for years to come. There would not be another strike by a teachers local in the province for 53 years. This is their story.
What led these teachers, most of them young women, to take their bold action was a familiar situation that continued to plague teachers for decades - a stubborn local school board, the right to arbitration, and recognition of their union.
Learn more: https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/bctf
Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond.
"Lament for Education" - Written by Christina Schut, 2002.
"As Long As It Takes" - Written by Geoff Peters and Marion Runcie, October 2005.
The songs in this episode were performed by a group of BCTF activists called More Than Just Pay performed a sampling of teacher "protest" or "folk" songs from major BCTF campaigns starting in the 1970s. The songs were created by teachers to inform, educate, motivate and entertain. Used with permission of Geoff Peters. Part of the BCTF Online Museum's "History in Song" collection. bctf.ca/history/
"William Plaxton" - Wayne Axford
Ken Novakowski, past President of the BC Teachers' Federation & retired chair, BC Labour Heritage Centre
Sarah Wethered, President, New Westminster Teachers' Union & BC Labour Heritage Centre volunteer
Interviews done by Patricia Wejr on behalf of On the Line, 2021.
Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh.
BC Federationist February 21, 1921
BC Labour Heritage Centre pamphlet by Nicol, Janet New Westminster teachers deliver a special Valentine almost a century ago
Norman, Steve The New Westminster Strike of 1921 The BC Teacher Jan-Feb 1984
Novakowski, Ken and Wethered, Sarah Jan-Feb 2021 Teacher Magazine New Westminster teachers make BCTF history – 100 years ago
Vancouver Sun, February 1921