Members of Foothills Local No. 16 accept the Local Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Award from South East district representative Heather McCaig (far right). Accepting the award (L-R) are local president Wade Westworth and local DEHR committee co-chairs Jamie Anderson and Paulette Morck.
The local won the award for a program that connects youth who are involved in gay–straight alliances within the division.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association recognized three of its locals for performing outstanding work related to diversity, equity and human rights (DEHR), public relations and political engagement during the 2016/17 school year. Local representatives accepted the awards at the opening session of the Association’s annual Summer Conference in Banff on Aug. 14.
“Our locals do outstanding work that provides great benefit to their students and their communities. These award winners should be very proud of their significant accomplishments,” said Association president Greg Jeffery.
Diversity, Equity and Human Rights
The Local Diversity, Equity and Human Rights (DEHR) Award went to Foothills Local No. 16 for its program SAGA Youth United 2K16. Through this program, the local created an opportunity for gay–straight alliances (GSAs) and GSA students from different schools in the division to connect and share ideas, build friendships and have safe spaces to have fun. Each GSA had the opportunity to host and plan a gathering for other junior and senior high GSAs in the division.
Student feedback suggested the local was successful in making students feel supported and less isolated.
“Being in a small school, it can be quite isolating to be LGBTQ. Getting together has helped me to not feel so alone,” stated one student in a feedback comment.
“It has impacted me a great deal because I’ve learned a lot and I felt incredibly welcomed,” stated another student.
Thanks to the support of the GSA network, the local currently has five high schools, three junior highs and one elementary school with a GSA.
Local Public Relations Award
Dan Tulk, a teacher and popular Fort McMurray musician, performs during the Mullets and Music event hosted by Fort McZMurray Local No. 48. The local’s effort landed it the Local Public Relations Award from the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
The Public Relations Award, which recognizes the local that planned and implemented the most comprehensive public relations program, went to Fort McMurray Local No. 48 for its event entitled McMurray Teachers for Mental Health – Mullets and Music.
Featuring a performance by popular local musician Dan Tulk, the project’s first goal was to raise local funds for mental health in the community and aid those who were directly impacted by the Fort McMurray fire.
“Although it was a relatively small PR program compared to the comprehensive programs some locals submitted, it has significant importance and impact,” commented one of the award judges.
Local Political Engagement Awards
The Political Engagement Award went to Edmonton Catholic Teachers Local No. 54. Among its political engagement activities in 2016/17 were the creation of Canada’s first gay–straight alliance for teachers.
The local also hosted a monthly guest speaker series featuring local politicians and had 90 catholic teachers and their families participate in the 2016 Edmonton Pride Parade. ❚