ETFO Staff Mary Morison was with ETFO from its inception. She joined the FWTAO staff the year before ETFO was formed, after years working with unions and the New Democratic Party. With ETFO, she had the unique opportunity to help build an organization from the ground up. She was there when ETFO wrote a constitution, formed new locals, created the Representative Council and offered members the chance to become leaders in a new, vibrant union – the largest teacher union in the country.
As she looks back through the years at ETFO, Mary remembers the people – the leaders, the staff and the members who taught her so much. She specifically recalls the Annual Meeting when the delegation created the ETFO Humanity Fund, the Annual Meeting when ETFO voted to join the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress. She worked tirelessly with women members to prepare them for leadership positions in ETFO, to be Women in Action.
Mary recalls working with staff and members to develop a cadre of parliamentarians who could chair local and provincial meetings. She also remembers the steep learning curve we all had to master Robert’s Rules of Order. She remembers chairing a strike vote from the stage at Casino Rama – the closest she thought she will ever get to being Tina Turner. Overall, Mary remembers all ETFO’s campaigns, some more successful than others, but all based in a commitment to high quality public education.
Mary acknowledges that ETFO challenged her to examine her privilege, to consider what reconciliation really means, and to understand education funding and teacher professionalism. ETFO gave her opportunities to try new things, to learn new skills and to take chances.
ETFO is an extraordinary organization. At its best, it frees each of us to contribute our talents and skills to students, our colleagues and communities. Educators are the backbone of our society. She believes, it is our honour, as their union, to champion their work, and her privilege to have been a part of it.