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December 2018

This time last year, a budding social media movement, #MeToo, centred women's voices and brought experiences of sexual violence into public conversations. For the first time in my lifetime, women shared their stories of violence without shame and there was hope for change.

Hearing the call for action, delegates to the 2018 BCTF AGM passed the Culture of Consent recommendation, which would proactively work towards protecting the safety of members and challenging gendered violence in all shared spaces.   

However, in looking back to last year's December issue of Seeds of Social Justice, I am reminded of how much work needs to be done. United States supreme court judge Kavanaugh's recent appointment confirms the pressing need for change. Despite efforts to bring sexual violence and its virulent consequences to the forefront of public discussions, alleged perpetrators of gender-based violence are still able to access the upper echelons of political power and their victims continue to be targets of vicious mocking and shaming for daring to share their stories.   

Among our many goals moving forward, we would be remiss not to focus on those who live the intersections of oppression. These include our queer and trans sisters, women with disabilities, racialized and Aboriginal women, women experiencing poverty, and all others whose struggles are often forgotten by the mainstream women's rights movement. We will never find liberation by standing on the backs of our most oppressed sisters.   

This month's edition of Seeds of Social Justice and the BCTF Status of Women web pages offer strategies, lesson plans and professional development opportunities that support teachers in bringing these important issues into our classrooms.           

Mary Lawrence, Status of Women Action Group, Committee for Action on Social Justice

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From December 1 to 10, explore activities in the recently updated What You Can Do resource for the last 10 days of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

World AIDS Day is on December 1. Order free  teaching resources in English and French from the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. 

December 2 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The videos page of the United Nations website features current, lived experiences with slavery.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is on December 3. UNICEF's free resource, It's About Ability/Une question de capacités  provides children with knowledge and skills to work towards this year's goal, Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. Use this Violence Against Women lesson plan with students from grades 7 to 12 to explore issues and identify potential actions in response to gender-based violence.

On Human Rights Day, December 10, celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights by exploring the illustrated version of the declaration with your students.  

International Migrants' Day is on December 18. Nasrin's Journey zine and lesson plans help students consider the many challenges asylum seekers face in their attempts to reach a safe, new home.

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In response to the 2018 BCTF AGM decision on the Culture of Consent, the Status of Women action group members have been working hard to develop resources to support teachers with strategies and resources to reflect on their own interactions with others, address and avoid initiating inappropriate behaviour, and act as allies for colleagues, students, and others experiencing abuse or harassment. Some of these resources are listed below.

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This new brochure provides targets and witnesses of sexual harassment with strategies to recognize, respond to, and report harassment.


Visit the BCTF Gender-Based Violence web pages, under the Issues in Education tab on the BCTF website,  to find resources to help respond to and teach about issues of consent, including lesson plans, resources, workshops, and support services.

Find additional resources, including the Domestic Violence in the Workplace poster and Thank a Feminist stickers on the BCTF Status of Women web pages. To request hard copies of posters, pamphlets, and stickers, email  Please include the name and number of each item along with your mailing address.

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This workshop raises awareness of healthy and unhealthy youth relationships and gender-based violence. Workshop participants increase their understanding of the impact of dating and sexualized violence on youth. Through the exploration of lessons and strategies to address these issues in the classroom, the workshop enhances the capacity of schools and educators to encourage healthy youth relationships. A series of lesson plans and comprehensive resources are provided for use in the classroom

Visit the Social Justice workshop page on the BCTF website to learn about additional status of women workshops, including Sexual Health Education: It's fun!, and Assertive Communication, and to book a free workshop for a school-based, local, or regional professional development day.

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The BCTF Equity and Inclusion web pages have excellent resources to help learn more about gender-based oppression. For links to videos, articles, books, and podcasts, scroll down to the Gender-based section under Equity-groups on the Raising Awareness and Delving Deeper web pages.

How to be an Accountable Man: Handbook for Preventing Violence, by Isaac Louie, BCTF member, is one of the featured items.

Article E1 in the teachers' collective agreement outlines the responsibilities of the employer to notify administration and staff each year of their obligation to provide a non-sexist work environment and to develop and implement non-sexist educational resources for staff and students. Many school districts have not yet taken steps to ensure full compliance with article E1. If you have not received notification or training on non-sexist environments, ask your local president or social justice contact about the steps you can take to ensure full provision of article E1. For ideas on how to get started, see the article, How non-sexist is your work environment, in the September/October 2017 edition of the Teacher Magazine. 

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Some of the most inspiring articles in the BCTF Social Justice Newsletter are written by BCTF members about lessons, projects, or issues that they are focusing on in their classrooms. We are currently accepting articles for the Winter/Spring 2019 Social Justice Newsletter. For more information, see the Social Justice Newsletter Submission Guidelines document on the Social Justice Newsletter web page.

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Do you know a teacher who has made an outstanding, sustained contribution toward social justice within the BCTF, local teachers' association, school, and community?  Consider nominating them for a Bob Rosen Social Justice Award. The award winner will be honoured at the BCTF AGM. The deadline to submit nomination forms is January 31, 2019. Read about past award winners here.

Funds are still available for Ed May Social Responsibility Grants. Applications will be considered and funds awarded on a first come, first served basis, until April 11, 2019.

Up to $5,000 in funding is available for Provincial Social Justice Initiatives Grants, which support social justice projects that have an ongoing and systemic impact on teachers and students across the province and in their community. The application deadline is December 13, 2018.

For application forms, and to learn about additional BCTF Social Justice grants and awards, including the Local Social Justice Grant, visit the Grants and Funds page on the BCTF Social Justice web pages.  

Barb Ryeburn
Assistant Director of Social Justice
BC Teachers' Federation
100-550 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2

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