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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read