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Honorary Life Member Award Winner, Bernard Rolston

Bernard Rolston, ETFO Staff

Media Release


In 1969, Bernard Rolston was working as a junior accountant at a department store in Bridgetown, Barbados, and decided to move to Canada in search of work and a university education.

With the help of a job recruiter at a government hiring agency, Bernard attended a job interview for a mail clerk position at the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario (FWTAO). He fondly remembers his interview with Deputy Secretary Shirley Stokes, her commenting that he was likely over-qualified for the position and how pleasantly surprised he was when his telephone rang shortly after arriving home with a job offer from FWTAO. He began working in the mail room and members’ records in February 1970 at the Federation House on Bay Street, home to OTF and all of its affiliates.

Bernard quickly noticed the diversity of the staff at his new job and grew to admire how the Federation made a point of bringing together people from different places, different backgrounds and histories. During this time, he continued his accounting studies both at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute and then later at York University, being strongly encouraged by Shirley Stokes, Dr. Florence Henderson and many senior staff members to seek higher education.

In 1973, Bernard moved into the printing department at the Federation. At that time, the printing department was completely mechanical – operating offset print machines that were inked and cleaned weekly and printing photographs meant using burned litho plates, nothing close to the high tech printing department he recently left behind. He remembers the big project every August printing, collating and binding the large Annual Meeting Book. He enjoyed coming to work each morning and looked forward to working alongside colleagues Pat, Elena, Pauline, and Maryna – talking about work, life, politics and family. He feels very lucky to have spent 45 years working with people he trusted and enjoyed, and whose friendship he deeply valued.

Bernard is enjoying retirement with his wife Monica, daughter Rashida, son Imara and his wife Julie, and granddaughter Aminata. He has enjoyed trips back home with his family to Barbados and to London, England to spend valuable time with his granddaughter, and will be there as you read this article. What he misses most about Federation are the colleagues with whom he laughed, debated and worked beside over the last 45 years, especially his “dim-sum” group.


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