The Delegates' Weekend: A Gathering of Teachers
by Heidi Yetman, President  |  11/3/2017

As a delegate for many years, I always looked forward to the Delegates weekend. It was nice to get away and immerse myself in valuable information and talk to colleagues from other schools and centres. We all live similar experiences as teachers and it was always nice to know that I was not alone. I made some great friends and associations through this event.

It was during a delegates weekend that I had the chance to meet the then president of the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF), Diane Woloschuck, who influenced my decision to run as president. I met her again several years later in Winnipeg in 2015 at the CTF Women's forum. When I told her that I was thinking of running for my local union as president, she said, "Don't think about it, do it!" She explained to me, that studies have shown that women tend to think that if they are not 100% qualified for a job that they won't apply. Men on the other hand don't question their qualifications. She made me realize that I had to step forward and become a role model for other women in the field. This is why the gathering of teachers/women can be an amazing experience.

PTU just recently hosted its 2017 Delegates Weekend. From a president's perspective, the weekend is very different. I get to become the hostess to an amazing event, which could potentially influence someone else. Undeniably, this weekend is in place to provide professional development for our union delegates so that they can be informed on various union matters and more. For example, this year the delegates had the opportunity to sign up for workshops on Pension, Insurance, Special Needs, School Council, etcetera. In addition, there were also three guest speakers; Cameron Gray from the Quebec Association of Geography and Global educators, Eileen Kerwin Jones, who spoke about Sex and Gender, and Nadia Naqvi, who spoke about her experiences as Muslim woman in the education system. These are spaces purposely open and engaging in the hopes of penetrating more than just basic knowledge but deep moral compasses and questioning. In my mind, unions have a moral and social justice role to play.

Another important aspect to the gathering is that delegates get a chance to meet union leaders from other school boards and within the Lester B. Pearson School Board. Sebastien Joly, the union president of QPAT was also present, remained available for discussion and addressed the delegates.

Furthermore, the weekend is a great place for sharing and networking between teachers from different schools and centres and I think this needs to be emphasized for next year. We need to discuss, debate and construct.

I want to thank all delegates who were actively involved this weekend and I look forward to more engagement in the future.