I am Tom Kertes. I live in Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii with my husband Ron. Haida Gwaii is the traditional and unceded territory of the Haida Nation. I teach English, Drama, and Digital Communication at GidGalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School in Queen Charlotte, BC.

To Print - 11 of 40Prior to becoming a public school teacher, I was a labour organizer and messaging specialist — with a focus on grassroots organizing and media mobilization. I have worked with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council as a communications consultant, the United Workers Association and the Liberation Learning Project as a community organizer, and in television and Internet video production for Biz Kids Productions, IWT News and ImagineTree Consulting.

As a labour organizer, I helped develop and coordinate two grassroots labour campaigns. The first campaign organized day labourers in Baltimore, Maryland and demanded a living wage for the cleaners at the publicly owned Camden Yards baseball stadium. Workers achieved their demand in 2007, following a nearly four-year effort by the cleaners of the stadium that culminated in a planned hunger strike by 14 cleaners and allies. The strike was called off on the eve of the worker-imposed deadline, when Maryland’s then governor Martin O’Malley agreed to their demands.

To Print - 40 of 40The second campaign organized Early Childhood Educators at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Working with the BCGEU union, which represented UBC child care staff, I helped develop and coordinate a campaign for gender equitable wages. Educators demanded at least $20 per hour, which represented a nearly 20% “pay correction” that would reflect the qualifications, responsibilities and value of the almost all woman workforce.

I am a dual Canadian-US citizen. I moved to Canada in 2007 in opposition to the invasion of Iraq and the practice of torture by the United States government under the second George Bush administration. I was born in Ellensburg, Washington (on the traditional lands of the Kittitas Band – which is now part of the Yakama Nation). I have lived in Cheney, Bremerton, Olympia, Seattle, Baltimore, Toronto, Vancouver and Queen Charlotte.