Teachers’ rights given boost by distinguished alum

Bronwyn Taylor

Bronwyn Taylor

University places retired Oak Bay teacher in another class

Bronwyn Taylor remembers what it felt like marching on the legislature in the late 1980s with thousands of other teachers.

“It was amazing to feel all that energy and support for a cause you believed in,” she said.

About 15,000 teachers marched through Victoria to the legislature in their bid for support to form a union.

Taylor began teaching special education in 1973 after graduating from the University of Victoria. In those days teachers could only bargain for salary and benefits – a B.C. union wasn’t formed until 1988.

She served on the first local bargaining team in the Sooke school district and was the first union local president in that district.

They lobbied for set class sizes, preparation time for elementary teachers and duty-free lunch hours. “We had to negotiate from the ground up,” she said.

The Oak Bay resident commuted daily to schools like Glen Lake, Sangster, and David Cameron elementary schools as well as Dunsmuir junior high over her 34-year career. In 1995 she completed a Masters in Education at UVic.

In between, she volunteered and continues to do so with Oak Bay volunteer services, the Oak Bay heritage foundation and theatre group St. Luke’s Players, to name just a few. She retired from teaching in 2007.

Last week, Taylor was honoured by UVic with a distinguished alumni award, having been nominated by the Faculty of Education.

UVic’s dean of education, Ted Riecken, presented the award to Taylor at a Feb. 9 gala ceremony on campus.

“I was in with some pretty illustrious company, I tell you. I was humbled by it,” she said of the night.

“I never felt I was doing anything special other than what was my professional responsibility, and contributing to the community in which I live.”

Among 10 others given distinguished alumni awards were Victoria city Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe (BA, 1983) and Paretologic co-founder Elton Pereira (B.Com. 1998).

UVic’s alumni society began hosting the awards two years ago “on a grand scale,” with a formal presentation and dinner at University Club, said Mike McNeney, alumni association spokesperson.