Terrace teachers who were ahead of their time and helped bring bargaining rights to teachers across the province will soon be honoured.
A bronze plaque is being made to honour local teachers who went on strike six years before it was legal so they could protest the transfer and demotion of two principals, thanks to the Terrace District Teachers ’ Union and the non-profit BC Labour Heritage Centre.
“Every community has a story to tell in building our province, yet there are few historical markets to pay tribute to those events,” said Deb Thame of the Terrace District Teachers’ Union to council at its Aug. 14 meeting.
BC Labour Heritage Centre is remembering working people with bronze plaques across the province; the criteria includes defining events, actions, episodes and experiences that played a significant role in the labour movement and people of B.C.
So far 160 plaques have been placed in various places in the province, said Thame, adding the BC Teachers’ Federation has commissioned five plaques to be placed for significant educational events.
Thame asked council to approve the placement of the Terrace plaque in a public place here so everyone could see it; the other four plaques are in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley and Victoria.
“I am particularly proud that Terrace was chosen; those others are significant, large population cities,” said Thame.
The 19”x 28” bronze plaque would be ideally placed somewhere on the Grand Trunk Pathway or in a park or a garden, said Thame, adding those places are the teachers’ union’s suggestions.
“We ask for it to be somewhere public where people can access it,” she said, adding the plaque won’t cost the city anything as it was paid for already and should arrive at the teachers’ union office soon.
The Terrace District Labour Council would take care of making any cement or rock surface to mount the plaque.
Thame added that the union tentatively hoped that the bronze plaque could be commemmorated with a ceremony October 5, which is World Teachers’ Day.
Council voted in favour of placing the plaque in a public place.
The wording on the plaque is the following:
“A full six years before BC teachers won the legal right to strike, Terrace teachers walked the picket lines for six days in 1981. Their strike was triggered by the forced transfer and demotion of two popular school principals, then members of the Terrace District Teachers’ Association. Led by their Local President Wayne Wyatt, teachers first staged a one-day walkout on May 6, to protest the Board’s arbitrary treatment of their members. Then, after setting clear objectives to get contractual guarantees of reasonable personnel practices, the teachers went out from June 12-19, 1981. Their strike ultimately won them a personnel practices agreement that helped bolster the BC Teachers’ Federation’s ongoing campaign for full bargaining rights.”