Teachers' strike doesn't disrupt kids' track meet thanks to parents
Parents organize to put on North Vancouver district-wide track meet after teachers walk out
Hundreds of North Vancouver elementary school students marched into Burnaby's Swangard stadium Tuesday for an end-of-year track meet, organized by parents after teachers joined the picket lines as part of a rotating strike set for the same day.
When the parents learned last week that the day their children had been training for, many for up to a year, had been cancelled, parent Mathew Young began working the phones and rounding up parent volunteers.
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About 100 parents stepped up, and over the next 72 hours secured permits, insurance, equipment and the endorsement of the North Vancouver School District and its superintendent.
Young says no one is pointing fingers.
"This is not a statement," Young said. "It's a solution. So we're not here to make a political statement at all. We're here to say it's unacceptable to us as parents that the kids are not being put first."
Kerith Paterson says two years ago one of her children missed the same event due to another teachers' labour dispute.
"It's my youngest daughter's first year, so that's fantastic," she said.
"The last time they did this it was my other daughter's first year and she wasn't able to do this, so this is fantastic. It's such a testament of community coming together."
B.C. Teachers' Federation President Jim Iker says it wasn't their intention to disrupt the track meet.
"Ultimately it was a decision by the school district to cancel the track meet...rather than working with the teachers' union and rescheduling it to another day," he said.
Young says he doesn't want to politicize the day which is about teaching children not to focus on the negative, but to look at the opportunities.
"You're going to have tons of times when it's challenging for tons of reasons, and you can do two things: blame everybody else or take responsibility and create a solution."
With files from Tim Weekes