Anne Rodrigue has been a teacher unionist all her adult life; for 18 years before ETFO as a politician and staff member at the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. While writing her doctoral thesis on Canadian teacher unions in 2001, Anne became intrigued by ETFO. Seeking new horizons, she applied for a job in October 2002, was unsuccessful, but was offered a short-term contract. In January 2003, she came to Toronto on a hope and a prayer – no permanent contract, no place to live, and knowing no one. She stayed for 13 exhilarating years!
Anne reflects on the many challenges of working at ETFO. Early on, it was: how quickly she could understand and adapt to a new context; how did ETFO function; what was her role and often, what was she doing here? Later, it was about assuming new roles: PD coordinator, staff association president and Deputy General Secretary.
Anne’s fondest memories relate to ETFO’s work in equity and professional learning. She recalls celebrating in the beautiful atrium, March 21st, the Day of Pink, Remembrance Day, June 21st and others. Through these events she felt the commitment and passion ETFO brought to issues of gender, diversity, equity and belonging.
Representing ETFO at OTF, at the OCT, and at the Ministry of Education was humbling. Participating in, designing or overseeing Reflections on Practice, AQs, and other professional learning programs kept her grounded in the work of teachers. Reviewing ETFO resources and publications invigorated her.
She remembers fighting for collective bargaining rights: designing campaigns, organizing marches, being strike-coordinator, standing and singing on local picket lines, packing and unpacking picket signs. Anne felt the engagement and solidarity of ETFO members – she felt the collective hearts beat as one.
She applauds the dedicated and talented staff at ETFO – her colleagues and friends, working collectively for ETFO members. She salutes the leadership of ETFO for their allegiance to this incredible union, ETFO.
Finally, Anne reflects that a life is made up of seasons and her best season is summer. She thanks ETFO for giving her the perfect summer of her life.