Happy 100th!

May 29, 2018

Historical displays are projected onto the wall during the 100th anniversary banquet.

The 100th anniversary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association featured prominently throughout the Annual Representative Assembly held in Calgary over the May long weekend and was the focus of a formal banquet held the evening of Saturday, May 19.

“I think if John Barnett were here today, he would tell us to stand strong. He would tell us that we have a collective voice and we have an obligation to use it. He would tell our young teachers not to take for granted the hard-won rights that teachers enjoy today. And he would remind us that, above all else, we must remember that we are masters, not servants.”

ATA president Greg Jeffery, speaking at the 100th anniversary banquet at ARA

From beginnings both humble and bold

How did the ATA come into existence?

In April 1916, the Alberta Education Association (AEA) passed a resolution asking its president, George Gorman, to look into forming a provincial teachers’ organization. At the time, the AEA was made up of teachers, Department of Education staff, clergymen, school trustees and some MLAs.

Gorman didn’t act on this direction, so at the April 1917 meeting, Edmonton principal George Misener introduced a resolution proposing the establishment of a provincial teachers’ organization. Since the majority of the attendees were teachers, the motion passed, laying the groundwork for the creation of the Alberta Teachers’ Alliance.

As acting president, Misener’s first action was to hire John Barnett as general secretary-treasurer. The first meeting between the president, vice-president and general secretary-treasurer took place Dec. 22, 1917, in the smoke room of the Hudson’s Bay store in Edmonton. The trio worked quickly to draft a constitution and a code of professional honour, and to complete the paperwork necessary for the organization to be officially recognized. Six months later – on June 24, 1918 – a declaration for incorporation was filed with the Supreme Court of Alberta. The first general meeting of the Alberta Teachers’ Alliance took place a month later, on July 24, 1918.

—Excerpt from speech by ATA president Greg Jeffery

Former ATA president Larry Booi outlines the Association’s recipe for success.  

Associations and unions, they weren’t foisted on
us by a hundred years of radical, left-wing,
union-loving governments … we got this organization because we fought for it.

­— Larry Booi, Former ATA president

Valuable lessons

During a historical review delivered during the anniversary banquet, former ATA president Larry Booi posited that the ATA has been most successful over the years when its leadership has focused on engaging the members.

Booi’s tips for ATA success

  • Be bold
  • Have courage
  • Build solidarity
  • Help teachers do their best work with all children
  • Put forward positive ideas
  • Work harder and work smarter than your opponents
  • Engage teachers
  • Be democratic
  • Stand up, stand together
  • Focus on members 
If you could speak to Alberta teachers 100 years from now, what would you say?


Cindy Sogge-Schurek
Northern Lights Local No. 15

Always remember what we’re here for and who we’re here for – kids first – ensuring that whatever state the curriculum is in, it’s delivered in the most effective and entertaining way. 


Jacinth Salmon-Brissett
Calgary Public Local No. 37 

People have fought for the cause of the teacher and have made great impacts and great strides. We’ve come a long way and we’re making our mark as teachers, and I think it can only get better. 


Trevor Nickle
Timberline Local No. 9 

Don’t disregard tradition. Don’t surrender your autonomy as a teacher. Don’t surrender solid teaching practice that has been tried and tested in favour of whatever the new, latest model is. 


Jackie Mines
Northern Gateway Local No. 43 

We are lucky to have this association. This association is run in the highest regard and to the best benefits of the students and teachers of Alberta. These decisions are made in a very democratic and very fair way, and I am proud to be a teacher in Alberta and proud to have this association. 

Also In This Issue