Saskatchewan

All high school basketball games cancelled Wednesday as students protest in Regina

Student basketball players from around Saskatchewan were in Regina on Wednesday to protest at the legislative building on the eve of teacher job actions that jeopardize extracurricular activities.

Work-to-rule job action to go into effect Thursday, which limits teachers' after-school involvement

Students from around Saskatchewan gathered in Regina to protest to possible loss of extracurricular activities in the province's schools due to possible job action on Thursday. (Declan Finn/CBC)

The Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association announced on Wednesday that all high school basketball events have been cancelled.

Badminton games have also been cancelled for the time being, depending on the length of time teachers enact job action.

"The ability to schedule around continued sanctions makes it impossible to save a sport season within a multi-sport, multi-program Association," Lyle Keller, SSHAA executive director, said in a news release.

In an earlier release, the SSHAA indicated that basketball playoffs in the province would only continue if the sanctions were lifted before 3:30 p.m. CST on Wednesday.

'The students' side of it'

Prior to the announcement, Saskatchewan students who were rivals on the basketball court united as allies on the steps of the Regina legislative building on Wednesday.

They drove to the Queen City from across the province to make their voices heard on the eve of possible work-to-rule job action from the province's teachers, who are in collective bargaining with the provincial government.

"We're really just taking the students' side of it," said Hunter Watson, a Grade 12 basketball player from Indian Head, who took to social media to express her dismay at the possibility of teacher job action.

Teachers voted on job sanctions earlier this month, opting for work-to-rule job action which would see teachers arrive 15 minutes before class and depart 15 minutes after, and limit involvement in voluntary and extracurricular activities.

Hunter Watson, a 12th grade student from Indian Head, took to social media to organize a protest on the steps of the Legislative building in Regina on Wednesday. (Declan Finn/CBC)

The move, which threatened the remainder of the high school basketball circuit and extracurricular activities in general, was one not taken lightly — teachers last took job action in 2011.

"I was really emotional at the time," Watson recalled when she heard about the job action. 

"I had just been told that these things were being taken away from me and my team just got together and decided we can either stand back and let this happen or try and do something about it."

The team decided to make the trip to Regina to make their voices heard and Watson took to social media. Her post went viral and teams from Assinboine, Foam Lake and other communities joined.

"It feels absolutely devastating, honestly, to not be able to do any of the things I've been doing for the last six years just because adults can't come to a conclusion on something," said Zaeyah Wilson.

Wilson is a student at the Foam Lake Composite School and plays for the senior girls basketball team. Wilson, a Grade 12 student, said the possible cancellations of extracurricular activities and regional basketball tournaments is unfair.

Zaeyah Wilson said it's unfair that her last year as a high school student could be without extracurricular activities. (Declan Finn/CBC)

"I'm so proud of everyone here that came together and is just trying to create a change and using our voices."

The SSHAA indicated that all remaining playoffs will be cancelled due to lack of teacher involvement, the loss of the qualification process and constraints on schools and host sites.

This includes the Hoopla provincial championship, set for March 19 to 21.

The cancellation, according to the SSHAA, will affect 1,700 students, 300 coaches and an assortment of other agencies.

With files from Declan Finn and Morgan Modjeski

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