Lindsey Firestone with her son Ocean and daughter Lily on the way to Deep Cove Elementary School in North Saanich Monday morning. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Lindsey Firestone with her son Ocean and daughter Lily on the way to Deep Cove Elementary School in North Saanich Monday morning. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich School District parents welcome end of strike

Various sides of support worker strike acknowledge remaining tensions

On the first day back from a strike that lasted three weeks, everything around Deep Cove Elementary school in North Saanich appeared the way it did more than three weeks ago.

Students stepped from yellow buses onto wet pavement and crossing guards wearily eyed the column of cars snaking its way along West Saanich Road. But Monday, the first day of school after support workers represented by CUPE 441 ratified a new labour agreement with School District 63, was not like every other day.

RELATED: SD63 strike officially ends with union’s vote to accept agreement

It was the first day after a divisive local labour strike that interrupted the education of 7,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 across multiple communities in Greater Victoria for weeks, made provincial headlines and tested the patience and bank accounts of many groups, including parents, whose reactions to the end of the strike varied.

“I’m really happy,” said Lindsey Firestone. “It was a long time and academically, it is nice to be back.” As the mother of three was balancing a cup of coffee and getting two of her children across West Saanich Road, she recalled the moment, when she heard of the news that the two sides had reached an agreement Saturday.

“I was at Thrifty Foods, I got a text, and I nearly shrieked and jumped up for joy,” she said. She supported the striking support workers and their demands for wage parity. “Everybody wants to see that happen,” she said. “But we also want the kids back in school.”

Sarah Ruddick said the strike did not impact her as much as others. “I’m on maternity leave, so I was able to keep my children at home. But I really feel for those families who had to deal with this strike, and pay out of their pockets to put their kids into care.”

And if Firestone’s combination of euphoria and relief marked one side of the spectrum, Ruddick also issued a warning. If the deal does not end up benefitting support workers after all the struggles, she would consider not voting for the current government in the next election.

School officials, for their part, tried to strike all the right notes.

“We are extremely pleased to have our schools open once again and look forward to re-engaging with our community and providing quality public education,” said Dave Eberwein, the district’s superintendent, in a message posted on the district website.

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

The note acknowledged that the strike was “extremely frustrating and disruptive time for everyone,” including students and families. “We have a long established history of placing high value on the importance of people and relationships in our district, and understand that this disruption to the learning environment has created extra tension.”

Those tensions will likely persist for some time at the highest political level, as a press release from Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich-North suggests. While he welcomed the settlement, the strike raised questions about whether the provincial government is prioritizing education.

“British Columbians are proud of their teachers and schools, and we must continue to invest in their future success,” he said. “The people who are responsible for making our educational systems run — teachers, education assistants, technical support staff, library technicians, family counsellors, custodial and maintenance staff — all require support from the provincial government.”

The provincial government, for its part, has maintained throughout the strike that it values education and educators, while respecting local bargaining in refusing to intervene in the local dispute, a demand of local union leaders, parents and others.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read