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The truth lies somewhere in the middle

Monday morning was the start of a three day legal strike that took our BC teachers to the streets with protest signs reading, " Teachers Taking a Stand".

Monday morning was the start of a three day legal strike that took our BC teachers to the streets with protest signs reading, " Teachers Taking a Stand". On Bowen, the teachers rotated shifts standing by the road side just above the tennis court on Mt. Gardner road. Local support for their actions came in many different ways, some parents and students rallied with the teachers, passersby honked their horns, waved and even brought coffee for the protesters.

Not everybody was happy with this disruption that proved costly for families and businesses. People were left scrambling for alternative childcare and the effect on businesses is still unknown. John Winters of the BC Chambers of Commerce claims in an interview with News 1130, "a withdrawal of the work force in order to take care of children could prove costly for BC businesses." To help alleviate the stresses that working parents face, the Bowen Island community recreation department pulled together a three day kids camp in record time. Politics aside, they stated that their mandate is to help with community needs and they worked very hard to achieve just that.

As no picket lines were established, BICS remained open with limited staff and resources. Bus service was cancelled and parents were urged to keep their children at home.Though a handful of students were dropped off and cared for in the school library, most families respected the strike and dealt with the situation as best they could.

According to the BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF), local teachers are fighting for the right to negotiate a fair settlement and to stop a one-sided contract imposed by government.Their statement to the media reads, "We support the BCTF's bargaining teams efforts to get the best learning conditions for the West Vancouver students." The BC Liberal government wants to pass Bill 22 which will ban teachers from taking any further legal strike actions and impede their collective bargaining rights.

On March 3, the Ministry of Education issued an information bulletin titled BCTF Claims and Facts whereby they defend claims made by the BCTF. The Teachers' Federation responded with a rebuttal which can be found on their website At the heart of these disputes topics such as class sizes, fewer special needs teachers in the classrooms and equality of wages across the provinces and territories are brought forth. According to the BCTF, top salaries for BC Teachers with a category 5 qualification (five or more years of academic and professional studies) rank ninth in Canada.

Cindy Dekker, chair of the Board of Education for West Vancouver which includes three municipalities (Bowen Island, Lions' Bay and West Vancouver) is aware and concerned about students, families and staff. She believes that people should have the right to a fair and equitable bargaining process. She is also trying hard to maintain relationships. " The truth is in the middle and both sides are entrenched" says Dekker, "but there is no more money." She hopes for an early end to it all and a mutual beneficial conclusion. Dekker's understanding is that we have stable funding but we won't get more funding. The uncertainty moving forward leaves parents, students and teachers wondering what's next. Yet the desire for all sides to put students first remains consistent. How they will achieve this goal remains to be seen.