WELCOME

This website is my introduction to you, who most likely found me because you Googled my name. It’s nice to meet you, and I hope to know you in person someday. In case you’re wondering, I’m not the least bit famous and I am as interesting as any person (fascinating?). This makes me wonder why you’d Google me in the first place. Perhaps more of an introduction is in order? If so, read on.

But before I introduce myself more, let me first introduce myself to Google: I am Tom Kertes. My friends call me Curtis (here’s why). I live in Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii. I am a public school teacher. I was born in the United States and immigrated to Canada in 2007, largely because I oppose torture. I am now a dual Canadian-United States citizen. You can read more about why here and here.

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The centre of me is family and friends.

I am a son and I have a mom, step-dad (who died at age 66), dad, and step-mom. I am also the husband of Ron, whose family are my in-laws. And I am a brother, step-brother, cousin, nephew, and uncle. (I was a grand child.) I am best friend to several good people, a good friend to several others, and a friendly acquaintance to as many people as will have me. Like many people (most people?), family and friends are the centre of my life.

I belong to a number of communities.

I am a member of a book club, an eat club, a political party, and a union. I am Christian and I once worked as a faith-centred community organizer. I am a socialist. Politically, I am progressive, pluralistic, moderate, and pragmatic. I am a citizen of a federal constitutional monarchy and a federal republic.

My Catholic faith is both foundational and deeply personal. My faith is the basis of my support for pluralistic, humanistic, secular, and universally provided public education, health care, libraries, welfare, child care, and other social democratic institutions. Faith is also at the heart of deeply held opposition to torture, militarism, war of aggression, colonialism, imperialism, and institutionalized poverty, racism, and sexism.

I like to watch movies on Wednesdays and to do other things.

On Wednesday nights I watch a movie that Ron checks out from the library. We project it on a screen in the living room and I usually sprinkle nutritional yeast on my popcorn (which I cook with oil and a pan). I like to go on short hikes at least once a weekend, usually on Sunday. I am set in my ways, which is why I think of baking often and rarely bake. (If I did bake, Sundays would be a nice day for baking at home.) Other hobbies and interests are writing and board games.

I love living in a small town.

I love my home in the village of Queen Charlotte and I am fond of both my husband and my life with him. We live in a house that I rent from the local school district – my employer. We moved here because we like rain and small towns on islands. This is the nicest house I’ve lived in since moving out of my mom’s house when I was eighteen. I like the big window in the living room and the way the kitchen is aligned with the rest of the house. I am hoping to build a house in the forest, but that will take a few years.

My profession is public education.

I am a public school teacher for School District 50. I’m a fan of public schools because I like it when we pool our resources together and use the money to provide education for everyone. Schools (at their best) are community centres -where everyone’s welcome to learn together. They are also the centre of most children’s social life outside of the home. At school, children meet all the other people their age that live in their neighbourhood or village.

My vocation is teaching and working with young people.

I am a teacher because young people challenge me every day, I enjoy playing around with ideas and knowledge, and I feel good about supporting and being part of the public school system. I’m also passionate about reading and writing with young people. Through story and text everyone has a fighting chance to have their needs met and voices heard.

I love to travel.

I love to travel. I’ve been to lots of places, but that’s why I love to travel. What I like is having time either alone or with someone I love (or like) for being busy doing nothing. Travel to me is simply seeing what’s somewhere, but in a frantic way. My favourites of travel are the train and boat rides, drinking coffee, and looking out the window of a hotel room at whatever view their happens to be. My other passions are theatre, stories, romantic comedies, and (short) hikes.

I was a community (labour and humans rights) organizer.

I have worked on several campaigns to secure the human rights of workers. I was part of a campaign in Baltimore that united temporary day labourers and secured a living wage. Workers spent several years building an organization together, and then set a deadline for Maryland state governor to agree to their demands. If the deadline wasn’t met, 14 workers and allies committed to going on a hunger strike. There was no strike, since on the eve of the deadline the governor agreed to worker demands instead. I coordinated the hunger strike and helped develop the media and communication strategy of the campaign.

I was also part of a campaign in Vancouver for gender pay equity for more than 125 Early Childhood Educators at a major university in British Columbia. This campaign was led by the educators, who were also members of a union. The first step was to empower educators within the union. With union support in place, workers set a deadline of International Women’s Day and a target of a 20% “pay correction”. The deadline and target were both met, thanks to strong support of the union and the remarkable leadership of the educators.

I have done other jobs as well.

I taught preschool, was a kindergarten teacher, and taught college classes in child development. I owned a toy and book store for children (where the preschool was located). I worked in children’s educational television. I’ve been a policy and communications advisor for unions and government agencies of various sorts. In my teens and twenties I was an AIDS activist, state Senate committee clerk, department store Santa, McDonald’s worker, and busboy.

I attended several universities and colleges.

I attended several universities and colleges. These are Evergreen State College in Olympia, Olympic College in Bremerton, University of Washington in Seattle, University of Toronto in Toronto, Langara College in Vancouver, and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. I was an instructor at Seneca Collage in Toronto and an Early Childhood Educator at University of British Columbia. I taught workshops that were accredited by Seattle Pacific University.