High schools throughout Mission emptied on Friday at 2 p.m. as students staged an organized protest across the province in support of their teachers’ decision to strike for three days next week.
The impasse between the union that represents the 41,000 teachers and the province came to a head on Wednesday as 87 per cent voted to start a three-day strike beginning Monday to counter back-to-work legislation tabled by the BC Liberal government.
Dozens of students walked out of Mission secondary to stand in the driving rain and cheer as cars drove by honking their horns in support. Some held makeshift signs, while others jumped up and down, waving their arms to gather attention from passersby.
“We’re supporting the teachers, and the government isn’t giving them enough money for everything they do,” said Grade 7 student David Meier, thoroughly soaked but standing steadfast at the curb.
“We have 30 kids in our classroom and there’s only one teacher and no help,” he added.
Things were more noticeably subdued at Heritage Park secondary, where although students also walked out at 2 p.m., most of them took the opportunity to get an early start on the weekend. Some students admitted to walking out with their classmates without really knowing anything about the strike situation.
Of the students who stuck around to show their support, some felt strongly that the situation needs to be resolved.
“Some people kind of think of it as a break from school, but when they come back they’re going to be way behind,” said Bethany Flesher, in Grade 10.
“I personally can’t have those days missing,” said Kassidy Howes, in the same grade as Bethany. “If I want to be able to go into Grade 11 I cannot miss those days.”
Emmah Noon, who is in Grade 11, said that although she’s doing poorly in two subjects, she can’t get the help she needs from teachers because of their work-to-rule job action enacted by the union in September.
She said she supports the teachers because since they stopped doing the extra, unpaid work, it’s become clear how valuable their efforts are.
Schools in Mission will remain open during the three-day strike, but attendance will not be compulsory.