Members of the Davis family from New Aiyansh enjoy lunch at a function hosted by the Nisga'a Teachers' Union in the Nass Valley.

Striking teachers reach out to students in small northern school district

Nass Valley teachers have been hosting lunches with parents, students

While there are obvious challenges to working in a small remote school district, there are also benefits in the closeness of the community.

In that spirit, teachers from the Nisga’a school district in the Nass Valley north of Terrace hosted a series of informal lunches for students and parents in the valley’s four villages last week before rallying Friday at Lava Lake alongside the Nisga’a Hwy.

The local union’s lunches were meant to update parents on the ongoing labour dispute – specifically the BC Teachers’ Federation’s mid-week vote which called on the BC Liberal government to agree to binding interest arbitration – and give students a chance to meet their teachers.

The two sides have been locked in their current dispute since the spring and students have yet to enter classrooms this year, although hopes did begin to rise yesterday with reports indicating the sides have quietly agreed to once again try mediation over the weekend.

The lunches were held in village government buildings, not school buildings, so as not to violate strike protocol.

“It is unique. We just felt it was time for students to come and have a chance to meet their teachers,” said Nisga’a Teachers’ Union local president Rich Hotson.

He hasn’t seen too many kids in the playground during the dispute, “so they’re probably doing things inside. Let’s hope their parents have them doing some schoolwork.”

More than 100 people turned out in both Kincolith and Greenville, and “a smaller room in Gitwinksihlkw and it was jammed, so it’s been a good turnout at each of the luncheons.”

“It was great to see the turnout, really pleased,” he said.

The Nisga’a school district has more than 400 students, with 38 teachers if you include teachers on call.

“With us, it’s never really been an issue of class size because our district’s been committed to providing as low a class size as possible,” said Hotson, who has been president of the local union for a decade.

“Some of the problems come from some of the various needs the students will have. You can have a number of students with special needs, and if the teacher doesn’t have enough time to spend with them that can be frustrating for everyone.

“Our board has always been supportive, our argument is not with our local school board, they’ve always been supportive. They listen to our needs and try and meet them,” said Hotson.

Hotson said he would like to see the vote on binding arbitration lead to a solution.

“I’m always optimistic, I have to be,” he said. “There are other ways to get to an agreement, but they’ll be slower. This way we can be back to work and our kids have been out too long.”

“We’ll get through this somehow, I just hope it’s sooner rather than later,” continued Hotson. “I’m pleased we’re at the point that we’re at a solution and it’s a fairly fast solution. Neither side will be happy at the end of this because when you turn it over to a third party, he’s going to make decisions but in the end they’ll be a deal because that’s what you agreed to when you agreed to the arbitration.”

And with the third week of the strike looming, some parents are asking why the Nisga’a Lisims Government doesn’t take over education, as is their treaty right.

“They have the treaty rights to do that,” said Hotson. “That’s for the Nisga’a Nation to decide and we’ll work with them to make the best education possible, no matter which way it goes.”

He said teachers want to continue to hold luncheons throughout the school year for parents to ask questions and learn about school going ons, “but hopefully we’re not doing it while we’re on strike, hopefully we’re back to work soon.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No injuries reported following propane leak in Terrace

Hwy 16 closed off, businesses evacuated as emergency crews responded

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

River Kings dethrone Rampage to reclaim first place in CIHL standings

Terrace is heading to Rupert rivals Jan. 31 in what will be a pivotal match for first place

COLUMN | Creating a “community of practice” inspires

Art Matters by columnist Sarah Zimmerman

Hockey puck with nails found at Terrace Sportsplex Arena

City believes it has already caused $4,000 of damage

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read