Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE)
36th Annual General Meeting and Convention
From May 16th to 19th, approximately 140 delegates from the 19 local associations that comprise FPSE gathered in Whistler for the AGM and Convention, hosted by the Douglas College Faculty Association. Ten TRUFA delegates attended. FPSE conventions include keynote speakers, training and discussion workshops, and decisions on budgets, campaigns, strategic initiatives, and policies. This spring, there were two notable keynote sessions: Elaine Bernard of Harvard Law School’s Labor and Work Life Program spoke on the subject “Organizing to Make Change Happen,” and a First Nations Activism and Advocacy Panel featured Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, NVIT Employees’ Association president, Sharon McIvor, and the Executive Director of the First Nations Education Steering Committee, Deborah Jeffrey.
In addition to the plenary sessions, TRUFA’s ten delegates attended workshops ranging from “Talking to the Media,” to “Bill C-51 and What Can Be Done,” to “Fairness for Contract Academics,” and “Intersectionality, Activism and Privilege in the Workplace.” One of the key workshops was focused on FPSE’s “Open the Doors” campaign whose goal is to make post-secondary education a potentially vote-determining issue in next year’s provincial election. Access and affordability for students and appropriate funding for institutions are features of the campaign. TRUFA’s VP, Star Mahara, and Communications Officer, Jack Massalski, both attended the workshop and are the liaisons for TRUFA with the central campaign.
In the AGM portion of the event, delegates endorsed an ambitious strategic plan for the Federation, including ongoing funding for the “Open the Doors” campaign up until the May 2017 election, lobbying government for the restoration of tuition-free Adult Basic Education, advocating for a Bernie Sanders-type tuition free undergraduate education (perhaps starting with waiving of first-year tuition at colleges and universities), a comprehensive review of how to lessen student debt overall, restoration of funding levels for post-secondary institutions and improving the broken apprenticeship system in British Columbia.
One important initiative adopted nearly unanimously by the AGM delegates originated from the TRUFA Human Rights Committee. The TRUFA motion called on FPSE, in response to the Call to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to work with and support Canada’s Indigenous Peoples in gaining recognition of their inherent sovereign rights to self-determination. This included specific actions to hold the Government of Canada to the legally binding obligations of several United Nations Covenants and to have Canada implement concluding observations of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The motion also called for $50,000 to be budgeted to fulfill this support. At the June FPSE Presidents’ retreat, an ad hoc committee on Decolonization and Reconciliation was formed to develop an action plan for meeting these obligations. I was chosen to be one of the committee’s members.
On behalf of the TRUFA delegation to the FPSE AGM and Convention,
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President