Well, County, it’s been quite a year.
When I sit down to reflect on the year that has been, it is a lot to process. We have been through a massive and historic battle, and are not without our scars. There is some sense that “time heals all”, but I know for many of us, the wounds are still pretty raw.
2017 was a tremendously difficult time to be an educator in Nova Scotia. It was a time of intense emotion, with ups and downs the likes of which most of us have never experienced. Between the intense solidarity of the marching in the streets to the deflating declaration of Bill 75, teachers were buffeted and battered in ways that few of us were ever expecting, let alone were prepared for. And we all know that the fight is far from over. With the ongoing court case and the anti-union sentiment that still exists in some circles, we are, in my mind, still a long way from out of the woods.
That is why I think that I am looking forward to 2018 with a sense of hope.
The 2016-2017 school year was impossible. Truth be told, I’m not sure how any of us got through it. And although the 2017-18 school year has not been anything to write home about just yet, it would be hard to say that things are the same. Things have changed. We have changed. We are looking at our jobs through a very different lens now; a lens coloured by an increased awareness of labour laws and unionism. There are those who have argued that there is no “New Normal”, but I disagree. The new normal may not quite have unfolded as quickly as some would have liked, but it is a movement in its infancy. Teachers, I am finding, are questioning things like they never have before. Yes, there will be some false starts and yes we will some trying moments, but teachers have not forgotten the struggles of the past year.
And it will be that recollection that we will carry forward into 2018.
I want to take a moment to thank all of your local executive for their tremendous work and support over the past 12 months. They have worked tirelessly on your behalf to ensure our local runs smoothly and continues to offer many great benefits to our members. As well, I would like to thank the school based reps. That role became a massive undertaking in 2017, well beyond what any of them signed on for. They are our connection to the members, and as recent history can attest, pivotal to our organization.
Finally, a special thank you to all of you, the members. Your passion and engagement has been an inspiration. Please know that we will continue to work for you in 2018 with the hope of improving the conditions under which you work every day. Teachers are a tremendous resource to not only our students, but to the Province in general, and it is far past time that someone other than teachers recognized that.
Have a fantastic break, and we will see you all in 2018.