Abbotsford secondary school students voiced their concerns regarding the B.C. government’s handling of the teachers’ strike by staging several walkouts on Friday.
Students from Yale, W.J. Mouat, Abbotsford Collegiate and other schools took the afternoon off to rally in public, voicing support for their teachers.
At Yale, a dozen young protesters marched across the street to Crossley Park and waved signs at passing vehicles.
“We’re out here to support the teachers because we feel it’s unfair the way the government’s been treating them. And we want the government to realize is that not only is this going to affect the teachers, it’ll affect us as well,” said Grade 11 student Mikela Marr.
The Yale student said now that the teachers have the right to strike, the government is pushing through a bill to stop them.
She is also concerned with increasing class sizes.
“It’s hard enough to get a teacher’s attention with 30 kids in class, let alone 40 or 50,” said Marr.
Mouat students took their protest to the front of city hall.
About 25 kids chanted and waved at cars, trying to draw attention to their cause.
“A lot of people are really ignorant about this cause. They think it’s just the teachers who want higher wagers when in fact it affects all of us,” said Stephanie Piper, a Grade 12 student at Mouat, who helped organize the walkout.
“It affects our funding for our school. I’m really involved in the school drama department and our play was cut yesterday and the band trip might be cut as well.”
Piper said the first phase of the teachers’ strike didn’t really affect students. However, now that the teachers have been forced to go to phase three, iit now directly affects them.
“We can’t just sit by idly and do nothing,” said Piper.
Dave Stephen, manager of communications for the Abbotsford school district, said they expected to see some action on Friday, judging from Facebook activity that came to the attention of school officials. However, he doubts any disciplinary action will be needed.
“There are no pre-arrangements being made. It’s more see what happens. Given that it’s right at the end of the school day, I don’t think it’s going to cause us to start rolling out suspensions. I think we just have to make sure it doesn’t disrupt the surrounding community and is controlled and respectful.”
He added some students, depending on their school schedule, may even have a free block during the protest.
Teachers are preparing to strike for three days next week (Monday to Wednesday) as their dispute with the provincial government continues. B.C. is trying to pass a bill that would legislate them back to work.